Questions about the school

What is a Free School?

A free school is funded directly from central Government - it is not run by the Local Authority (although we will be part of Harrow's admissions application process). Free schools have certain freedoms that Local Authority schools do not - for instance, we can set our own curriculum, terms and school days. Free schools are inspected by OFSTED, and children do sit SATs, just the same as any state school.

Why do we need a Free School?

Local Authorities cannot currently set up new schools themselves. In order to meet demand for school places their main option is to expand existing schools. In Harrow, many of our primary schools are now 4 form entry and are struggling with space. Even with these expansions, demand is set to outstrip the number of new places created. By starting a Free School, we can provide a new primary school for Harrow and offer something a little different to existing schools, increasing parental choice.

Where will the school be located?

Groups proposing free schools have to first submit their application to the Department for Education then, once they've gained approval, negotiations can begin on finding a site. We have a couple of possibilities in mind, are talking to Harrow Council about finding potential locations and would be interested to hear from anyone who thinks they could help us. We will find a site within the London Borough of Harrow with access to good outside space.

Will the school be religious?

No. Our school is committed to offering a secular, non-denominational education, reflecting the many faiths, nationalities and ethnicities of Harrow. Our admissions policy and our school culture will welcome children from any background.

Will your teachers be qualified?

Yes. We are partnering with Broadfields Primary School and will have the same high standards for our teaching staff as they do. Our main class teachers will all be qualified teachers, and our specialists will be highly qualified in their area of expertise (for example, a musical instrument teacher would be qualified and experienced to teach their instrument, not necessarly to teach the whole primary school curriculum). As a co-operative school we will also offer the same terms of employment set out for main state school teachers. It is incredibly important to us that we attract and keep good teachers.

Questions about our curriculum/approach

How will this school be different?

We are currently developing what our school will look like (and welcome ideas and feedback). However, so far we are proposing:

  • An environment where children, teachers and parents work together in a respectful partnership.
  • A co-operative legal structure - the school will be owned by its community
  • Children will have a strong voice in all aspects of the school
  • A thematic curriculum, delivered using fun methods grounded in strong research (such as music, or outdoor education) with regular child-led, cross-class projects.
  • A strong emphasis on skills for long-term success: on communication, confidence and collaboration
  • Flexible school days - the school will be open 8am-6pm
  • Flexibile school terms - we will offer a degree of flexibility, probably two optional weeks per year, to allow families to holiday outside normal school holidays.

I like the idea of a flexible school day, but don't children need structure?

A flexible school does not mean an unstructured school. In a flexible school, teachers, parents and children can work together to create a structure that works for the child and for the school community. In our school there will be standard school days, but with a choice of three holiday blocks and an optional extended day. We hope that the Individual Learning Plans, supported by a sophisticated electronic system, will give the Head Teacher the ability to work with parents to support those children who need more flexibility from the school.

If you don't have to follow the National Curriculum, doesn't this mean that children will have trouble continuing to secondary school?

We are initially proposing a thematic based curriculum, adapted from the National Curriculum. Teaching in themes, rather than every subject being taught separately, allows teachers to respond to children's interests and works very well for primary aged children (see our curriculum section). However, just like any other primary school, our children will be expected to meet national standards in their core subjects. Also, by focusing on teaching children the skills and passion for learning, we will put them in a strong position to move on to the more independent learning environment of secondary school.

How will parents be involved?

We will have an internet based Learning Management System, where children, teachers, parents and others involved with the child's education can work together to support learning. It means that parents can remain fully involved in their child's school life and children feel that all their successes and interests are important, not just those that happen in the classroom. It also means that children who have to miss school, or who are struggling for other reasons, can be supported so they do not fall behind.

Parents can also be involved in the running of the school through the co-operative structure. This school will truly be owned by the community.

Questions about admissions

Which year groups will you open with in 2017?

We are currently exploring which year groups there is demand for. It has been suggested that it might be a possibility to open with Reception, Year 1 and Year 3 (beginning of Key Stages), however we will need to satisfy ourselves and the Department for Education that there is sufficient demand for this. If you are interested in joining the school, please fill our our survey.

When will you open applications for admissions in 2017?

We anticipate opening applications in September 2016. Please join our mailing list to be kept up to date.


Got something you’d like to ask? (Don’t worry, we won’t include your details when we publish the reply). hello@mariposaprimaryschool.org.uk


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