Members of the UK's biggest teachers' union, the NUT, have elected Steve Sinnott as their new general secretary.
Mr Sinnott has advocated unity between teacher unions
He takes over immediately from Doug McAvoy, who under union rules is standing down after 15 years.
Mr Sinnott, 53, a former comprehensive school pupil, became deputy leader in 1994 while national president of the NUT (National Union of Teachers).
He beat off three other challengers for the top job, and described his election as "an extraordinary honour".
"General secretary of the NUT is one of the most important jobs in education and I am proud to be taking on that role.
"Every member of this union and every child we teach is at the heart of the union's policies and I will pursue those policies with enthusiasm."
Last year Doug McAvoy accused a left-wing coalition of Labour moderates and former communists within the union of seeking to remove him early and enhance Mr Sinnott's chances of succeeding him at the expense of other contenders.
But during his election campaign Mr Sinnott took a moderate stance, advocating unity between the teachers' unions.
Mr Sinnott has a degree in social sciences from the former Middlesex Polytechnic, and trained as a teacher at Edge Hill College in Ormskirk in 1975.
His first teaching post later that year was at Shorefields Comprehensive in Toxteth, Liverpool, where he taught humanities.
In 1979 he moved to Broughton High School near Preston where he became head of economics and business studies, until his election as deputy general secretary.
He is married and has a son and a daughter.
The NUT has 240,681 members. There were 52,310 votes cast in the election.
Under the single transferable vote system, Mr Sinnott beat Ian Murch in the final round by 27,287 to 22,134.