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The Work of the Bursar: A Jack (or Jill) of all Trades? April 12, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, New releases.
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We have just sent off to our printers, Bell & Bain of Glasgow, the seventh and penultimate book in our highly-respected Leading Schools in the 21st Century series.

The Work of the Bursar: A Jack of all Trades? follows on from previous titles that focused on Heads; Senior Management Teams; Heads of Department; Newly Qualified Teachers; those involved in Pastoral Work and, most recently, those in Public Relations, Marketing and Development.

This book is co-sponsored by the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (until 1983, the Public Schools’ Bursars’ Association), which was founded in 1932 at a meeting at Epsom College. It came into being to support the growing number of schools in which the Head had once controlled the financial as well as the educational management, but which had, over the previous few decades, created the post of bursar.

Here Nigel Richardson, editor of the book, explains a little more:

“The range and demands of the bursar’s job have grown out of all recognition. In larger schools there is now a team of people rather than one individual responding to them; in many, the person at the top of the pyramid is known by a different title. In some schools, a group of individuals in specialist support roles are collectively and individually answerable to the Head as chief executive.

“Wondering whether we could or should reflect these developments, we considered the title of this book carefully. Ultimately, however, having recently surveyed its members, ISBA’s view was that the term ‘Bursar’ is still the most widely used and widely understood. We hope that the term will be seen as generic both to the person(s) and to the roles described.

“We hope, too that the book’s sub-title Jack of all trades? causes no raised eyebrows. In terms of gender, yes: these days there are many Jills, as well as Jacks, occupying in the bursar’s chair. Furthermore if, when one hears the phrase, one often thinks of the words which tend immediately to follow it: ‘Master of none’, it is worth remembering the saying in fullest version: ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none; though oftentimes better than master of one’.

“Bursars truly are practitioners of many parts.”

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