Mr Cooper studied at York University and was head of Netherthorpe for eight years.
The school's most recent Ofsted report gave a glowing account of his leadership and management.
Michael Stevenson, former director of education, and joint director of factual and learning at the BBC, will be the new director of strategy and communications at the Department for Education and Skills.
He replaces Peter Wanless, who has become the department's director of secondary education.
Bill Macnaught, the head of cultural development at Gateshead Council and its former director of lifelong learning, has joined the board of Resource, the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries.
His appointment coincides with him becoming chair of the newly- constituted Advisory Council on Libraries. The two posts will run concurrently.