A popular, high-profile figure, Mr Dunford is a former president of SHA and was widely tipped as favourite to take the helm of the 7,000-strong union. He was awarded a PhD for a thesis on HM Inspectorate, and has had a number of historical studies published.
Mr Dunford was the first, and only, school representative on the board of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service and is expected to take a lead in promoting reform of the 14-19 curriculum and abolition of the A-level. Bruce Douglas, SHA's president, said Mr Dunford was the unanimous choice of the selection panel. "We needed a distinguished, skilled, articulate leading professional of national stature and we have found one in John Dunford," he said.