Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 17:12 UK

Balls rejects Sats accusations

Ed Balls
Ed Balls rejects claims that he did not act over Sats test problems

Schools Secretary Ed Balls has insisted that he "pressed" the exams chief following warnings about problems with last summer's Sats tests in England.

Last week, the former exams boss, Ken Boston, claimed in evidence to MPs that ministers had not been actively engaged in addressing marking delays.

He accused ministers of producing a "fictional" account of their response to the chaos with the marking process.

But Mr Balls said he had repeatedly raised questions about the problems.

Facing questions in the House of Commons, Mr Balls and Schools Minister Jim Knight rejected claims they had been evading responsibility for the failures of the Sats marking process last year.

'Lying'

Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove asked whether the account given by Dr Boston or the government's was correct.

"Is Ken Boston lying, and if not, who is?" said Mr Gove.

But both Mr Balls and Mr Knight argued that ministers had been in contact with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, following warnings about problems with the administration of the Sats tests taken by 11 and 14 year olds.

"The QCA was pressed throughout the whole debacle relating to the delivery of the tests - they were pressed by officials, they were pressed by me, they were pressed by the secretary of state," said Mr Knight.

Mr Balls said that he had pressed the QCA on a number of occasions, including raising the concerns of a constituent.

The schools secretary and schools minister said that Lord Sutherland's official inquiry had examined all the evidence and found that the private contractor and the QCA had been at fault.

"I entirely support Lord Sutherland's inquiry," said Mr Balls.

Dr Boston, who resigned over the Sats marking fiasco, had told a committee of MPs that evidence against him was "sexed up".

He also accused ministers of putting a "protective fence" around themselves.



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