Marks for ministers

Estelle Morris - Education Secretary (left): The star of this summer's spending review, her work this term has left something to be desired. Left to carry the can for the mess over police checks for teachers, she has been damaged by the A-level marking fiasco. Much now depends on her big project - striking a deal with teachers over workload.

Verdict: Started well, but has lost her surefootedness.

David Miliband - schools minister: Fast-tracked from the backbenches, the former head of the Downing Street policy unit, and MP for only a year, was feared as Prime Minister's pet in the department. However, his sharpness has impressed officials and his charm offensive has won over union leaders. Slow to come forward during recent crises, he still has to earn his political spurs. Restarting literacy and numeracy improvements will be his biggest challenge.

Verdict: A promising start.

Margaret Hodge - lifelong learning and higher education minister: The class extrovert has spent much of the year trying to find a solution to the problem of student finance but has still not handed in her work. In charge when the decision was made to close schools rather than to employ teachers without police checks. Her boss reversed the decision when she returned from Australia.

Verdict: Could do better.

Stephen Twigg - junior minister (young people and learning): Another new boy and one who has so far made little impact. He will have his hands full both developing a strategy for London's schools and ensuring that the Government's decision to educate special needs pupils in mainstream schools does not backfire.

Verdict: Yet to realise potential.

Ivan Lewis - junior minister (lifelong learning): After suffering a hard time at the hands of parliamentary examiners during the passage of the education Bill, the former 14-19 minister was sent to the political wilderness marked adult education. He will have to make the replacement for individual learning accounts work if this is not to be his last ministerial job.

Verdict: Much work to be done.

Baroness Cathy Ashton - junior minister in the Lords (early years and childcare): Steady but unspectacular performer, impressed her peers during Lords stages of the education Bill, helping to ensure it passed on time. Also responsible for sport, she will hope to defuse the long-running row over the sale of school playing fields.

Verdict: Done some good work, but is yet to shine.

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