Stephen Twigg was not the only education spokesman to lose his seat: the Tories and Liberal Democrats also suffered casualties.
Teaching unions said they would miss Tim Collins, the Conservatives'
Mr Collins, who had been tipped as a possible party leader, lost his marginal Westmorland and Lonsdale seat to the Liberal Democrats, who had targeted senior Tories for "decapitation".
He had been applauded by delegates at the recent National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference and had impressed Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, who said Mr Collins had brought new energy to the political debate on education.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems lost David Rendel, the party's spokesman on higher and further education, whose Newbury seat was won by the Tories.
Mr Twigg's departure prompted a sweeping reshuffle of education ministers.
Ivan Lewis was promoted from skills minister to economic secretary, while Lord Filkin, a junior education minister, was dropped from the Government.
Margaret Hodge moved from children's minister to minister for work, Kim Howells from universities to the middle east, and Derek Twigg, junior minister, to the Department for Transport.