The worst thing about starting a new school

May 31, 2016

There are many things about our journey to starting Mariposa that have been frustrating, but none as much as the battle to announce our site. We want to be completely open and involve our community as much as possible with the new school. However, for this part, that is completely out of our hands.

Here is why…

We are The Big Little Schools Co-operative

Mariposa Primary School is being started by a co-operative trust (The Big Little Schools Co-operative). The trust is, at the moment, pretty much the same as the Steering Committee – the group of local parents, teachers and volunteers who applied to set up the school. As we get closer to opening, more people will be able to join, developing the trust into a true co-operative.

Working towards a Funding Agreement with the Department for Education

The trust receives money from the Department for Education (i.e. Central government – not the Local Authority) to set up the school. It’s enough to pay a part time project manager, a bit of marketing and for some of our staff to start early (our Head Teacher is due to start in January 2017). Once everything is in place to open, we will enter into a Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State for Education, which will secure our funding once children are attending.

Which is completely dependent on the work of the Education Funding Agency

The site is purchased for us by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). This government agency is responsible for the workings of funding education. They negotiate buying land, they appoint contractors, they project manage creating the school building. Once the site has been purchased and the building constructed, it will be leased to our trust.

This means that there isn’t a lot we can do, within our trust, to control the speed at which the development of the site happens. We have a say over the specifications of the building (classroom sizes etc), but that’s about it.

And we need to keep the faith that this works a bit like the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. 


The EFA move SERIOUSLY slowly (sorry to anyone reading from the EFA, I’m sure it feels as if you are hurrying). We identified our site back in May 2015. Negotiations (and the sellers are really supportive of our school and want to sell) took until November 2015. SIX MONTHS! We were told that we’d be exchanging contracts at the end of January. Now the legal work to exchange contracts has taken another SIX MONTHS and we are nearly in June.

Once we have exchanged, we will be able to announce where the site is. And then the EFA will be appointing a contractor to build the school and getting our planning application in as fast as they can.

We aim to open on the site, but in a temporary building (a good distance from the construction work) in 2017 – so we (thankfully) don’t actually need the final building finished straight away.

We are currently in the situation where every week, we are told that exchange is just a few days away. And every few days, that date is revised.

We know it is frustrating for everyone watching and waiting. We are in disbelief how long this is taking. Absolute disbelief. We so badly want to tell everyone!

And that’s the worst thing – it’s out of our hands. We’ve gone from a pace of work that was beyond manic, but at least within our control, to waiting….and waiting…and waiting….

But we reach the next big milestone next week!

(Or at least, that’s what they are telling us this week.)

Everyone repeat the magic spell after me...

ESIO TROT! ESIO TROT!
TEG REKCIUQ , DEEPS PU!
EMOC NO!!
TROS TI TUO!*





*Spell courtesy of Roald Dahl.

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Feb 5, 2018

So, the news is out. Mariposa is over.

As we lick our wounds and work out what our lives look like now, I can finally write a blog post or two about the experience. Apologies for length – it has been a while!


Jul 1, 2017

Starting a new school is a long process, full of lots of hoops and reports and boring stuff that neither generates much fun or much news. We are often asked by parents for updates, as we haven’t posted much news lately. Invariably I reply with, ‘Well, we’re working on the planning process – having meetings with the ESFA (the newly-renamed Education and Skills Funding Agency) and Harrow Council and working on all the detailed plans for our curriculum and school policies and procedures’.


May 31, 2016
There are many things about our journey to starting Mariposa that have been frustrating, but none as much as the battle to announce our site. We want to be completely open and involve our community as much as possible with the new school. However, for this part, that is completely out of our hands.

Here is why…


Mar 11, 2016
We are back and things are moving fast! Our site is close to being announced, we have identified two new roles on our Steering Committee and we are advertising for our first Head Teacher.

Next page: Site


020 8945 3123