A clutch of Brighton and Hove schools have told parents they won’t be fined for taking their children out of school on Tuesday to join a “strike” protesting at tests for six and seven year olds.
The council has written to schools to say that taking a child out of school for a demonstration must be marked as an unauthorised absence according to its policy.
Earlier this week, lead councillor for children, learning and skills Tom Bewick spoke out strongly against taking direct action, urging parents to make their views known at the ballot box rather than damaging their children’s education.
But whether to issue a fine is at the schools’ discretion, and several headteachers have told parents of year two children that they will not be fined.
A council spokesperson said: “We consider our schools to be supportive and nurturing environments offering a stimulating and creative curriculum.
“We believe that any disruption to children’s education is unacceptable.
“Our guidance to schools with regard to the planned Let Kids Be Kids action is that any pupil absence stemming from this should be recorded as ‘unauthorised’.
“However, decisions regarding authorizing absence or otherwise are ultimately a matter for individual headteachers – not the council.
“The same is true with regard to decisions about whether parents should be fined for unauthorized absence.”
Schools understood to have told parents they won’t be fining parents who take their children out of school on Tuesday include Balfour Primary School, Carlton Hill Primary School, the Bilingual Primary School, St Luke’s Primary School, West Hove Infant School, Fairlight Primary School and Elm Grove Primary School.
One school says it believes most other schools will not be fining.
Tuesday’s strike, organised by Let Kids Be Kids, has been publicly supported by the University of Sussex’s teacher training faculty.
Jo Tregenza, head of teacher training, said: “These SAT tests are used as a way for the government to measure how primary schools are performing – they are not about providing children with the rich education they need.
“We are hearing stories from teachers about six year-old children coming into school crying because they are so worried about taking these tests – this is deeply wrong.