Lecturer leads the way as first female president of teacher association

UHI Inverness lecturer Maureen Turner has been selected as the first ever female president of the Scottish Association of Painting Craft Teachers.

During the late 80’s and throughout the 1990’s Maureen was conspicuous as the only woman working as a painter and decorator on sites in Moray. Now she is continuing as a trailblazer by being the only woman to hold the highest office in the association’s 68-year history.

The Association was formed back in 1955 by a small number of painting and decorating tutors, which were few and far between back then. Their main aim was to be able to deliver the City & Guilds courses that were available at that time. Subsequently, as the craft qualifications grew, so did the need for support for teaching staff. Providing opportunities for continued professional development, ensuring staff remained up to date with industry standards, and supporting staff in the delivery of qualifications across Scotland’s colleges, have always been at the forefront of the association.

Maureen said: “I’ve been in the industry for 35 years so it was time to step up to the mark. It’s a great achievement and an honour that I was asked to step into this role, bringing it into the 21st century. I hope I can encourage more women to become involved, because it provides a great opportunity to support new teaching staff across Scotland through networking and sharing best practice.”

Maureen, who joined UHI Inverness as a painting and decorating lecturer nearly nine years ago, now plans to strengthen the association’s aims of advancing the education of the craft across Scotland by reviving the continued professional development training units that paused during the pandemic.

She sees the association as a support network for colleagues in colleges across Scotland and has been on its management committee for three years. Maureen has held the role of vice-president for the last two years and took up her new two-year post earlier this summer.

Maureen began working in the trade in Rothes in the late 1980s through a YTS scheme and then completed a four-year apprenticeship.

“I was the only female in the company and the only female working on sites for a good decade, I had to put up with a lot, and that’s the reason I have developed broad shoulders,” she said.

During her career, she also found time to own a hotel and become a mum, before joining UHI Inverness.

“I love my job, particularly the job satisfaction you get from seeing apprentices walk in the door for the first time with very few life skills, and over the next four years I help to arm them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to have successful careers,” she said.

For her, it is a pleasure to see past apprentices working for themselves, with their own workforces. She also enjoys the camaraderie with her students and colleagues, and not just in Inverness. As an external verifier for SQA she has developed good relations at all the Scottish colleges that deliver painting and decorating.

Another highlight is seeing more female apprentices and students coming to UHI Inverness to be trained.

“We’ve had really skilled female students who have won national awards. They’ve done really well, and it’s been great to see,” she said.