Ben Blackwood moved to Wellington College Shanghai from Redland High School for Girls, a leading independent girl’s school in Bristol, where he has been the Bursar for eight years. Ben first became a bursar after completing a 26-year career as an officer in the British Army.
After completing his A-levels at Welbeck College, he chose to go to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, rather than university. On completion of his training he was commissioned in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and proceeded to serve in many parts of the world, including Germany, the Gulf, the Balkans and the Falkland Islands. One of the highlights of his career was being selected for training as an Ammunition Technical Officer, including bomb disposal. Towards the end of his service he completed a Master’s Degree in Engineering Business Management at the University of Warwick.
Ben has always been interested in most sports and was privileged to be selected to play hockey for the Ordnance Corps, as a goalkeeper. His main sport now is cycling and he has undertaken a number of challenging rides. He is married to Fiona and they have two children, Victoria and Thomas, who are also at Wellington.
Ben says of coming to Wellington: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the role of bursar, so much so that I always knew that if I ever left my current school, it would have to be to go somewhere very special. Wellington College, Shanghai, definitely meets that criteria and I was absolutely delighted to receive a phone call from David Cook one Saturday morning informing me that I was to be appointed as the first Bursar.
“When I retired from the army, I sought a new challenge in becoming a bursar. To some people these two roles may seem quite a contrast, but actually it is a well trodden path, as nearly one third of independent school bursars have served in the British armed forces. The title ‘bursar’ is synonymous with British independent schools and universities and derives from the mediaeval Latin bursarius, which means “keeper of the purse”. Whilst managing the school’s finances is a key function of the job, it encompasses so much more, including management of the estate and services to ensure a healthy and safe environment, the management of the administration, in fact providing the leadership for all of the non-teaching functions within the school. My aim has always been to lead an excellent team which provides all the support that the Master and his teachers require to provide an outstanding education to all our children. I believe the key to this is establishing good working relationships with everyone connected with the school, including staff, parents, governors and contractors to gain an understanding of what they really need.
“Part of my selection process included a visit to Wellington College UK and, on driving through the main gates, I was immediately aware that I was entering something very special. There is a great deal more to a school than its teachers, pupils, staff and buildings, vital thought they are. Great schools have a culture of excellence that has to be developed and shared by the whole community. I am very excited at having the opportunity to be part of the team that will be establishing the true ethos of Wellington at Shanghai and establish our school as the leading international school in China.”