The new organisation raises the profile of education in the world of work and suggests a keen ministerial interest in bridging the worlds of academic and vocational education.
Youth training shares a bed with further and higher education, while lifetime learning joins employment.
The seven directorships are expected to follow the recent Civil Service trend towards the practical management of public services and away from the heavy concentration on policy advice.
The new posts are: director general for schools (Peter Owen); director general for further and higher education and youth training (Roger Dawe); director general for employment and lifetime learning (Nick Stuart); director general of strategy, international and analytical services (Graham Reid); director of operations (John Hedger); director of finance (Leigh Lewis); director of personnel and support services (David Normington). The employment service has its own chief executive in Mike Fogden.
The lack of any women among these deputy secretaries was criticised by Kay Driver, the deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association. She pointed out that more than half the teaching profession is female, adding: "It is startling to see that the whole thing is still run by men. " SHA has written to Cheryl Gillan, the junior minister responsible for women's issues in the department, requesting a meeting to discuss creating a women's unit.
The main ministerial responsibilities in the new department are: Eric Forth - employment policy; employment service; labour statistics; higher education; student support; international issues.
Lord Henley - curriculum and assessment; exams and qualifications including the review of 16 to 19 provision; performance tables; careers education; special education and people with disabilities.
Cheryl Gillan - grant-maintained school casework; school reorganisations and admissions policies; city technology colleges; women's issues; equal opportunities; policy of choice and diversity.
James Paice - post-16 issues; further education; the youth service; adult learning; training strategy; training and enterprise councils; apprenticeships; youth training.
Robin Squire - under-fives; school effectiveness and failing schools; common funding formula; local management and governors; teacher matters; truancy, discipline and attendance.