A dad defended his decision to take his children on a holiday to Disney World during term time because the trips were £8,000 cheaper. 35-year-old Paul Benson and his wife Jessica, 34, from Redcar, North Yorkshire, were fined £480 for taking their children on holiday during their term time.
The dad said that his kids were “ostracised” from their primary school, and the teachers and staff in school made them feel like a “criminal activity”. The couple took their kids to Florida twice during their term time in school to save peak summer holiday fares and so they were fined £240 for their children’s absence from school, which totalled £480.
The couple have defended their decision and said they have no regrets for doing so. They intentionally planned their family trips in September as they were able to save £8000.
“It wasn’t so much the fine that bothered us, but because of the fine, it meant it was a criminal activity to be able to spend time with our family,” he said.
According to Paul and his wife Jessica, if they had gone on vacation during their kids’ summer break during the peak summer season, the two-week family stay would have cost the family £12,000. However, the couple decided to take the trip after the peak season to save some money and travel cheaply. The same trip cost them only £3,700 instead of £12,000 when they went in September.
“Teachers would remind us and say it’s affecting their education, and their education would suffer as a result.”
“But our eldest child was one of the top performers in her SATS. So it contradicted what they were saying all the way along. We just found it a massive blow to us,” Paul added. “My wife said to me it feels like only the privileged people can have a holiday – the super earners who can afford to go. It’s not an equal opportunity.”
‘My wife said to me it feels like only the privileged people can have a holiday – the super earners who can afford to go. It’s not an equal opportunity.’
The couple said on both the trips he was taking during their kids’ term time, the teachers warned the family about taking the time out.
The school said it informed Redcar and Cleveland Council about the unauthorised holidays that issue fines for non-attendance, of their three kids Ruby, 12, George, 10 and Olive, 2.
‘Our school is quite hot on attendance. The school informed us that they are going to pass it on to the local authority,’ he said.
Another reason for planning a trip during term time was that Jessica, his wife, who works in the NHS as the operating department practitioner, was not able to take off from her work during the peak summer season.
“My wife works for the NHS, so obviously during the pandemic, there was a massive backlog for operations. It’s very competitive when staff want to take holidays. She couldn’t take time off during the holidays.”
The penalty arrived in the first week of December, just before Christmas and New Year.
“It was a massive sting trying to get Christmas presents, and then you get that massive fine coming through the door. So I think it needs to be done more fair. I’ve got some friends with kids at different schools and councils and the teachers have a different approach,” he said.