SCOTLAND'S largest teaching union has chosen a secondary school teacher from Glasgow to be its new general secretary.

Larry Flanagan, principal teacher of English at Hillhead High School, in the city's west end, will take up his new post with the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) in April.

The appointment of Mr Flanagan, selected after a specially convened meeting of the EIS national council in Edinburgh, represents a significant shift in emphasis for the union.

Mr Flanagan is seen as a more radical candidate than current general secretary Ronnie Smith, who steps down in April.

The decision to adopt a more outspoken figure comes at a time when the EIS feels it is losing ground to rival unions over an unpopular decision to cut pay for supply teachers – which the EIS signed up to. There will be an expectation that Mr Flanagan will adopt a stronger stance on such issues in future – although he has also show he can work with Government in his support for the Curriculum for Excellence.

Mr Flanagan's biggest challenge is likely to be whether he can meet renewed expectations from radical EIS members that he can deliver on their policy priorities, while at the same time working with Government.

Alan Munro, president of the EIS, said: "Mr Flanagan takes on this post at a critical time for the EIS and for Scottish education, which faces unprecedented challenges on a number of fronts.

"We are clear he will be well able to meet these challenges in the years ahead, making full use of his considerable leadership skills."

Mr Flanagan said: "I am delighted and honoured to have been selected as general secretary of the EIS. Ronnie Smith, our current general secretary, will be a hard act to follow, but I look forward to the challenge immensely."

Mr Flanagan is a graduate of Stirling University and began teaching at Blantyre High School, in South Lanarkshire, before moving to Penilee High School, in Paisley. In 1996, he was appointed principal of English at Hillhead.

Mr Flanagan has a long association with the EIS, initially as a member and more recently as an EIS council representative and convener of the EIS education committee.

It was in that role he came to national prominence, championing the benefits of the new Curriculum for Excellence at a time when many of his colleagues were concerned about its implementation.

But he has always argued the new examinations for the curriculum are being introduced too quickly.