Hundreds of Brighton and Hove parents are considering taking their children out of school next week in protest at this year’s exams for six and seven-year-olds.
A rally will be held in Preston Park on Tuesday to mark the Let Kids Be Kids strike, which has been sparked by controversial changes to the national curriculum.
But Cllr Tom Bewick, chair Brighton and Hove City Council’s children, young people and skills, warned that the council is planning on taking a strong line and families could end up with a £60 fine per parent for unauthorised absence.
Alkin Emirali, who will be taking his daughter Beba out of school on May 3, said that the strike was parents “voting with their feet”.
He said: “Tests for children of that age means the narrowing of what they’re learning to an almost Victorian perspective – just reading, writing and arithmetic.
“The teachers are becoming education administrators because they have to push children through quite narrow hoops. The timetable becomes squashed and becomes around getting kids through these particular hurdles.
“At six and seven, should we be instilling pleasure for being at school and encouraging wonderment and interest, or pushing children to pass exams?
“Parents are voting with their feet. It’s entirely democratic.”
He said a letter of conscientious objection asking schools not to allow children to participate in the tests, being held in May, was being drawn up for those parents who could not participate in the strike because of work or financial issues.
But Cllr Bewick said that while he is sympathetic to the aims of the strike, this is not the right way to protest.
He said: “Whatever parents feel about education policy, I don’t support education boycotts. The only people who suffer are the children themselves. They shouldn’t be used as a pawn or protest weapon.
“We are putting guidance out to schools and if there are any parents who think they’re going to get soft treatment, they should think again.
“I believe we do test kids far too much compared in England compared to other countries. But whatever the strength of feeling, this is something which should be expressed at the ballot box.”
This year’s spelling and grammar test has already been scrapped after it was accidentally published online by the government as a sample paper.
The national Let Kids Be Kids campaign is spearheading the “strike” and a petition they have launched alongside it has been signed by more than 25,000 people.
More than 400 city parents have already expressed an interest in taking part in the strike, with 189 saying they will attend the rally via its Facebook event page.
Families plan to assemble at the clock tower in Preston Park at 9.30am, and create a giant sign reading NO SATS for an aerial picture.
The rest of the day will be spent doing arts and sports activities for the children.