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Green light for heads to take on bursars;News;News amp; Opinion

BURSARS dealing with finance and administration could soon be employed in schools to ease the burden on senior management. Ministers want headteachers to concentrate on core education tasks and are hatching plans to replicate an initiative under way in Edinburgh's secondaries.

The city employs bursars on salaries of pound;18,000 to handle finance and ministers believe the model could be expanded and extended throughout the country. Independent schools have traditionally employed such senior administrative staff.

Sam Galbraith, the Children and Education Minister, won warm applause at the Edinburgh conference last week (page four) after giving assurances he would do all he could to ease the concerns headteachers have expressed over paperwork and managing school buildings.

His plans are in line with the recommendations of the Time for Teaching report, a joint study by the Accounts Commission and HM Inspectors, which noted that secondary heads spent around 80 hours and primary heads 50 hours a year on managing buildings.

Frank McGrail, head of Drummond High, Edinburgh, welcomed ministerial moves. "I would estimate I have spent four to five hours liaising with people to try to lop a tree interfering with a roof," Mr McGrail said.

Meanwhile the city is to pilot alternative approaches to buildings management. One option is for catering, cleaning and maintenance to be run through clusters of schools, with service bids put out to tender.

Roy Jobson, Edinburgh's director of education, said: "I

am greatly in favour of looking at means to allow heads more time to concentrate on teaching and learning."

Ten Edinburgh schools involved in the public private partnership will set the pattern by having their buildings managed through private consortia.

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