In memory of Ian Buchanan

28 August 2023
Thumbnail Ian Buchanan

It is with sadness that we heard of the death of our former SSERC colleague, Ian Buchanan.

Ian started with SSERC (then SSSERC) in 1983 at the original premises at 103 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, initially to fill the vacant post of ‘workshop technician’. His job title was Technical Officer. Ian had many more skills to offer. He was very practical and hands-on. If any mechanical assemblies were needed to aid research in SSERC, Ian would design and build it. If repairs of a mechanical nature were needed with science equipment, Ian fixed it. With his previous experience as a watchmaker, he ran the microscope workshops for many years.

In 1989, following a move to newer premises at Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh, SSERC undertook the additional role of technology along with the well-established sciences. During that time, Ian developed and trialled most of the practical materials which were used to compile a set of booklets intended to support the introduction of Technological Studies at Higher grade. At that time, Ian took the support role in training groups of technology teacher delegates to use these new materials and resources. He also gave similar training to technology technicians but in a lead role. In 1991, when the Scottish Joint Support Activity (JSA) funding for the TVEI project ended, the fixed-term staff who had been seconded to SSERC for that two-year period returned to their substantive posts. The SSERC team was then back to its core staff of eight but continued to offer support and advice to technology departments similar to those that it had always provided in the sciences. With occasional support from colleagues, Ian then inherited the lead role of overseeing all services and advice that SSERC provided to Technology departments in schools. By then, Ian had made many contacts at an advisory level and teaching and technical support staff across Scotland.

During the early 1990s, primary science was expanding, but with very little practical knowledge and minimal support in primary schools, SSERC was soon training groups of primary teachers with equipment such as small electrical components. Although this was a team effort by SSERC, Ian was often in the lead role and remained as such until SSERC gained its first seconded primary specialist in 2005. During the following year, SSERC moved from its third premises in Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, to the present address in Pitreavie, Dunfermline. Ian continued with his work in all aspects of technology at the Dunfermline premises despite being well beyond retirement age. By this time, SSERC was expanding again and was soon in a position to hire a technology adviser. This allowed Ian to take more of a supporting role, working on a part-time basis into his gradual retirement. Ian remained active in the workshop and was still leading the microscope maintenance course until fully retiring around 2013.

Over his years at SSERC, Ian had established a large contact base at all levels across Scottish Education. He was an SSERC representative at the STAG (now STAC) meetings and was known by most Chief Technicians nationwide.

Ian was a true gentleman and could hold conversations with anyone he came into contact with. Many of his younger colleagues learned a lot from him, everything from interpersonal skills when delivering courses to practical work as required by the organisation. He is fondly remembered by all who remember him, and our thoughts go out to his family.