A Minister's wife and key Government adviser has been named as the next chief inspector of schools, the first woman to hold the high-profile post.
Christine Gilbert will begin her new job as head of England's education watchdog Ofsted on October 1.
The former headteacher, who is married to Police Minister Tony McNulty, is heading a flagship Government review into how classroom teaching should develop between now and 2020.
The Department for Education and Skills rejected any suggestion of "cronyism" over the appointment of Ms Gilbert, who is chief executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
A DfES spokesman said: "Christine was appointed on merit following a rigorous open competition conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments.
"She is a successful local authority chief executive in a challenging inner London authority and has 18 years of frontline teaching experience, eight of them as a headteacher.
"Her track record in education at Tower Hamlets speaks for itself.
"During that time, primary school results have risen well above the national average, and GCSE results have greatly improved."
Ms Gilbert's review of teaching focuses "personalising" education to suit the needs of individual children. It is looking at issues such as how best to teach pupils in small groups in the classroom.
Department for Education officials said Ms Gilbert would continue to head the review team until she takes up the post of chief inspector.
Another chairman could be appointed to take forward the work after September, or the project could be accelerated to finish before she starts her new job, a spokesman said.
Developing "personalised" learning was a key part of Labour's education pledges at last year's General Election.
Ms Gilbert succeeds Maurice Smith, who has been chief inspector on an interim basis since his predecessor David Bell left Ofsted to become the top official at the Department for Education and Skills.