Bursars, coming from diverse
backgrounds with varying skill sets, will cover a wide range of
duties in their day-to-day work and this will vary considerably
from school to school. For this reason it is not possible to
be prescriptive about either the ideal candidate to be a bursar,
the qualifications, or the job specification but this page will
provide you with some general guidance.
Bursars will always have access either to professional advice from
ISBA, other professional bodies, or from colleagues in neighbouring
schools. In many cases, members of a school's governing body
are recruited because of their particular expertise and they too
will be able to advise. ISBA's regional meetings, seminars
and annual conference also provide opportunities for experiences to
be shared and problems discussed.
The bursar will normally be responsible to the governing body for
the conduct of the financial affairs, business management and
material state of the premises and to the head for day-to-day
administration but again this will vary between schools.
ISBA's most recent members' survey, conducted in February 2020,
showed that 80% of bursars hold an honours degree or higher
qualification; two thirds (66%) have membership of at least one
professional body and nearly half (49%) are professional
In broad terms, most bursars would be expected to have
responsibility for the following:
Finance and Accountancy
- Advising on general financial policy within the school.
- Preparing annual estimates of income and expenditure to include
the preparation of departmental budgets within the school, the
latter in consultation with the head or senior academic staff.
- Monitoring income and expenditure in relation to budget and
presenting regular management reports to the governing body.
- Keeping the accounts of the school and preparing Statements of
Financial Activity (SOFA) and balance sheets in accordance with the
charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP).
- Maintaining cash flow projections for the current and future
- Advising on investments in consultation with the school's
brokers or investment managers.
- Preparing pupils' bills and collecting all fees and
- Payment of all salaries and wages, including PAYE,
Superannuation and National Insurance Contributions and compliance
with regulations for benefits in kind.
- Administering pension schemes for teaching and non-teaching
- Scrutinising and passing for payment all invoices received in
- Organising special appeals for capital projects or endowment
- Keeping analyses of costs and other statistical records.
- Preparing forecasts for the future financial performance of the
school; usually over a period of five years.
- Preparing financial appraisals of particular projects.
- Advising on taxation matters generally, including covenants
from subsidiary companies to the parent charity and, where
appropriate, ensure compliance with regulations for VAT.
- Advising on the financial implications of the charitable status
of the school.
- Dealing with the school's income tax and rating
- Operation of an Advanced (Composition) Fees Scheme.
- Advising on scholarship and bursary funds and undertaking
assessments of parents' income and assets prior to making bursary
- Involvement in the marketing and development of the school -
this role is beginning to emerge but must be balanced against other
commitments and a separate appointment of development director is
General Management and
- Acting as clerk to the governors and secretary to various
committees and trusts.
- Ensuring compliance with all relevant aspects of employment law
including employment protection, equal pay, minimum wage, Working
Time Directive or discrimination on the grounds of sex, race or
- Acting as the head's adviser on employment matters including
disciplinary procedures and ensuring that the school has
appropriate disciplinary and grievance procedures.
- Ensuring that all relevant staff have contracts of employment
and keeping the school's standard contracts up-to-date as new
legislation takes effect.
- Managing the employment, terms and conditions of service,
supervision and welfare of all non-teaching staff.
- Formulating, monitoring and implementing the school's policy to
comply with the requirements of health and safety legislation. This
could include acting as the health and safety assistant within the
school and as chair of the health and safety committee. Carry
out risk assessments where appropriate and monitor all departments
to ensure that they are carrying out risk assessments. Take
professional advice as required.
- Ensuring that the school has adequate insurance cover at all
times to include employer's liability, buildings and equipment
cover, personal accident, travel insurance and other relevant
cover. Professional advice should invariably be sought.
- Purchasing, either directly or through a purchasing group, all
goods and services for the school.
- Arranging for staff accommodation and dealing with the letting
of property to school employees and third parties; ensuring that
the appropriate leases and licenses to occupy are signed by the
- Letting of school premises to outside organisations.
- Acting as correspondent with the Department for Education (DfE)
and being responsible for the records and returns required.
- Advising on and taking the appropriate physical security
measures within the school for protection of both staff and
- Maintaining contact with the statutory authorities and other
- Catering which may be contracted out.
- Cleaning which may also be contracted out.
- The swimming pool and its plant, with the need to ensure that
proper safety procedures are enforced, particularly for
out-of-school hours and during the holidays.
- Overseeing the management of the school shop and uniform
- Overseeing the management of the laundry facilities.
- Management of sports equipment and facilities.
- Minibuses and transport - compliance with the regulations for
the operation of minibuses; driver training and assessments;
servicing and vehicle inspectorate tests.
- Maintenance of school buildings including the preparation of
maintenance schedules and keeping of records.
- Managing the installation and maintenance of equipment for the
detection, warning, protection and escape from fire ensuring the
necessary fire risk assessments are carried out.
- Maintenance and efficiency of the installations and plant for
electric and gas supply, heating, domestic hot water, water
softening etc. Letting of energy supply contracts at
competitive rates, either directly or through a purchasing group.
Promotion of energy conservation.
- Ensure that catering areas meet the requirements for hygiene
and food safety.
- Managing the maintenance of the lighting and ventilation in all
- Drawing up outline specifications for new buildings, obtaining
tenders, planning permission, liaison with school architects and
- Upkeep of playing fields, gardens, all weather surfaces,
running tracks and tennis courts.
- Land drainage.
- Maintenance of boundaries, roads and rights of way.