A dad has defended his decision to take kids on holidays to Disney World during their school’s term to save thousands of dollars.
Paul Benson, 35, and his wife, Jessica, 34, from Redcar, North Yorkshire, took their children to Florida twice during their term time to save peak summer holiday fares.
On both occasions, the family was fined £240 for their kids’ absence from school, which totaled £480.
The dad-of-three says his children were ‘ostracised’ at their school, and their teachers made them feel like their trips were some kind of ‘criminal activity.’
But both Paul and Jessica have defended their decision to plan their family trips in September as they were able to save a whopping £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, if they had gone on a peak summer season vacation during their kids’ summer break, the two-week family stay would have cost him £12,000. However, he and his wife, Jessica, decided to take the trip after the peak season to save money, and the same trip cost them only £3,700 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,” he 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.”
The couple first took their kids, Ruby and George, out of school in September 2018 when they had to take a trip to Disney World in Florida.
Then after the pandemic, when they were able to go on holidays again, they planned a family vacation for the second time in 2022, once again in the month of September.
This time the two children who are now aged 12 and 10, were also accompanied by their younger sister, Olive who’s almost 2 years old.
“But on both occasions, he said teachers had warned him about taking the time off before informing Redcar and Cleveland Council, who issue fines for non-attendance, about their unauthorised trips,” wrote Daily Mail.
The dad-of-three insisted that he couldn’t plan a trip during their kids’ summer holidays because it was very expensive and way out of their budget. Secondly, his wife, Jessica, 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 really take time off during the holidays.”
He added that parents should be entitled to take holidays without being fined as their children’s time away from school was also a form of education since they learned about other cultures and experienced new things.
“But on each occasion, Mr. and Mrs. Benson were both fined £240, penalties totaling to nearly £1,000 after both breaks,” Yorkshire Live reported.
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,” he said. “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.”