His appointment, which coincided with the promotion of Stephen Twigg to school standards minister, has inevitably led to the pair being dubbed the Twigglets.
Teacher unions welcomed Stephen's promotion, saying it brought much-needed continuity to the Department for Education and Skills following the departures of Charles Clarke and David Miliband.
Stephen, who turns 38 on Christmas day, was praised for his handling of London schools and primary education.
Derek, aged 45, has spent the last two years working for the chief whip's office.
He was a civil servant for 19 years at the DfES's office in Runcorn, and became branch secretary of its main union, then the CPSA, when he was just18.