Robin Squire's new role resolving school disputes is the latest example of Labour appointing its former opponents to key jobs.
Mr Squire was number two to Gillian Shephard in the Department for Education and Employment until the 1997 election.
Although considered a relatively effective and approachable minister, he was out of work for over a year after the Tory defeat. During that time he was rejected for two posts as a school bursar.
The new team of school adjudicators will be responsible for resolving local disputes between education authorities and foundation and voluntary schools over school organisation and admissions. They will not deal with individual children's cases.
They are headed by Sir Peter Newsam, chief education officer of the Inner London Education Authority during the 1980s and former director of the Institute of Education.
Ministers have also held out an olive branch to the grant-maintained sector. Four members of the Funding Agency for Schools, which will be abolished later this year, will become adjudicators. Others include Peter Downes, former president of the Secondary Heads' Association, and Andrew Collier, who until this year was general secretary of the Society of Chief Education Officers.
The full team are: Sir Peter Newsam, Dr Alan Billings, board member of the Funding Agency for Schools, June Brown, FAS Assistant Director of Planning, John Clark, director of a recruitment agency, Andrew Collier, Peter Downes, John Evans, education consultant, Gordon Hainsworth, registered inspector and education consultant, Ann Holt, director of Christian Action Research Education, Louise Kidd, FAS board member, Robert Lanwarne, chief executive of FAS, Peter Neafsey, former director of Schools of the RC Diocese of Leeds, Professor David Newton, Vice-Chairman of FAS, Dr Hilary Nicolle, education consultant, Robin Squire, and Anthony Webster, director of education at Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.