Teenagers yet to pass their A-level exams have been employed to mark the SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) exam papers of pupils aged 11 to 14.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has refused to apologise over the handling of the SATs system, and blames the company hired to mark test papers.

SATs papers belonging to thousands of pupils have not yet been marked, and some teachers who have seen marked SATs papers have reported errors such as adding up the total marks.

Thousands of pupils were also awarded no marks after they were incorrectly recorded as absent from the tests.

Educational Testing Services (ETS), a US-based company, was awarded a £154 million, five-year Government contract for the work, but after senior markers refused to work for ETS in protest against its methods, it is thought that ETS resorted to employing teenagers instead.

Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the Commons Schools Committee, yesterday announced that he had seen evidence that ETS was employing pre-university students to mark the papers.

Another Schools Committee staff member later confirmed that some of the marking staff had yet to receive their A-level results.

Mr Sheerman said: ‘An agency hired a graduate to mark science, maths and English papers. He was the most experienced member of the team.’

Ofqual, the exam regulator, has announced that it is holding an inquiry into the marking of SATs papers.

Michael Gove, the Shadow Children’s Secretary said: ‘The process used to make sure marking is rigorous and consistent has been deeply flawed, and parents and teachers have lost confidence in the credibility of these tests as a result.’

Mr Balls said: ‘I have said it’s unacceptable. I’m really upset, like you are, about what’s happened and I want to know what’s gone wrong and that’s why I’m having an inquiry.’

Ed Balls was responding to the revelation that teenagers yet to pass their A-level exams have been employed to mark the SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) exam papers of pupils aged 11 to 14.

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