EIS elects classroom teacher to lead the union

3rd February 2012 at 00:00
Workload, pensions and the new curriculum are at the top of his agenda

A 127-strong interview panel - the full EIS national council - has selected a classroom teacher to lead Scotland's largest teaching union.

Larry Flanagan, principal teacher of English and drama at Hillhead High in Glasgow and convener of the union's education committee for the past four years, will take up the post of general secretary in April, when he succeeds Ronnie Smith.

Mr Flanagan was chosen over two internal candidates - EIS officials - and an external candidate, after the short-leet of four was interviewed by national council members.

His "pitch" to the council was that he would be coming to the post straight from the classroom and had therefore more direct experience of the difficulties teachers face on a daily basis.

The main issues for teachers are "workload, problems with Curriculum for Excellence and concerns about pensions", he said.

Once suspended by the Labour group on Glasgow district council for defying the whip over the poll tax, he told TESS he was not aligned to any particular party but saw himself as "left-leaning" in terms of his politics.

He plans to spend a lot of his time going round schools and at local association meetings.

"I don't see it as an administrative post. I see it much more as a leadership role in terms of direction of the union. I hope to have a fairly high profile among the membership.

"The difficulty for me is that members make policy and it will be my job to carry out policy. I've very much been an active participant in all the debates and will have to learn to stand back a bit and let others make the decisions," he said.

As the EIS representative on the Curriculum for Excellence management board, Mr Flanagan has been the union's main voice on development and implementation of CfE and the new qualifications. He is a very strong defender of the model of three years of broad general education, with exams only coming into play in S4-6. Those schools and authorities who are favouring a 2+2+2 structure (S1-2, S3-4, S5-6) - along similar lines to the current structure - are effectively "abandoning" CfE, he argues.

But he is concerned that progress on developing the new National 4 and 5 qualifications and related resources is too slow.

"There is a huge risk for the current S2 cohort, since the Scottish Qualifications Authority has essentially abandoned the appeals system - there is very little fallback for these pupils."



Born: Glasgow, 1955

Education: St Mirin's Academy, Paisley; BA in English and history, University of Stirling; PGCE, Jordanhill College

Career: Blantyre High; two-year secondment on multi-cultural and anti- racism education; senior teacher, Penilee Secondary, Glasgow; principal teacher, Hillhead High, Glasgow; EIS education convener, 2008-12.

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