A DUNFERMLINE educator who is celebrating 50 years of teaching this summer says he has no plans to retire just yet!

After a bit of digging, John Nolan found out he is just one of three who have been teaching German since 1971 but despite half a century in the profession, he is is still just as passionate about his subject.

John, 71, grew up attending Holy Name Primary in Oakley and St Andrew’s High in Kirkcaldy.

After graduating with an MA in German and a diploma in education from the University of Edinburgh and Moray House respectively, he began his teaching career, becoming principle teacher of German at St Columba’s RC High School for 35 years.

Following on from that, he worked as a freelance teacher for 14 years and since 2013 he has been teaching German and a little bit of French at the High School of Dundee part-time.

John told the Press: “Yes, I’m still going but not so strong!

“I found out I was one out of three still teaching since 1971 after I did a FOI (Freedom of Information request) a little while ago out of curiosity!

“My career has taken me primarily around Scotland but also a little bit down to England too.

“I taught German for a long time at St Columba’s until 2007 when Fife Council changed their language policy.

“But I wanted to continue to teach so I took on a freelance role on fixed term contracts which took me to many places from Orkney to Essex.

“It was an interesting time for me teaching in England and I found it very useful too for my career later on.”

John’s many hats have included working for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for 35 years and he has also undertaken academic research.

He also written around eight fairytale plays for young learners of German which have been performed in schools across Britain.

“Over the last 50 years I have seen many changes but very few improvements, in languages specifically,” John explained.

“I have worked for the SQA in various capacities that let me see the whole assessment experience and I was the sole setter for the German exam for 15 years.

“I formed the opinion that assessments over the last 20 years have been losing their value and I was so exercised by this that I decided to do my own academic research. For three years I asked, ‘Has German teaching testing failed Scottish pupils?’ “I looked back at 50 years of assessments as part of that and the answer was an utterly resounding and compelling, yes.

“Simply put, the majority of pupils are leaving with high grades but do not have the competency for those grades.

“I did that research to make people realise that language assessments were no longer fit for purpose. I’ve had great feedback from other educators but the problem is getting the SQA and Scottish Government to deal with it.”

And what other changes has John seen in half a century of teaching?

He said: “There is a more relaxed relationship between teacher and pupil and that’s a very good thing in my opinion.

“When I first started, the belt was still legal and I always objected to it because the relationship between the learner and the teacher is what makes children learn the most effectively.

“That’s not to say I want chaos in the classroom! But that’s why the relationship is important.

“I also remember in the 70s there would be tape recorders shared between five teachers!

“Of course it was just a blackboard but now we have language labs and all our own tablets. The internet has been the biggest resource for our learners.”

He added: “I’m still optimistic – but I think you have to be after 50 years!

“But we still have this idea that everybody speaks English and that’s the biggest problem because there is value in learning a language.”