Family Fined £480 for Taking Children out of School to Save £8,000 on Trips to Disney World

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.”

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  1. I agree fully!! The system rips us off and takes advantage of “peak seasons” … I reckon the memories this family have made outweigh the days they missed at school. Plus…out of season- ques are shorter, less wasted time, less people in the parks making it more enjoyable! Well done

  2. Only the well off seem to have the privilege of going abroad in the school holidays! For the average family we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Can’t afford the astronomical peak prices, and fined if we gamble on saving by going away at the very end of the term! Often the fine is also unaffordable (in our case with 3 kids = an extra £360!) It’s a joke and it’s the kids that miss out on all the experiences visiting other countries may offer them. Mine realistically will never go abroad! The holiday companies shouldn’t be able to dictate to the degree that they do, and schools should assess each situation on merit (attendance and performance) and allow some slack, particularly if it’s one or two days at the very end of term. I know children who have been absent in one term far more than mine ever have in their entire school life and we still get penalised to the same degree.

  3. School is important I know but so is family time spent with loved ones. Years ago we were allowed 10 days in term time from school and this worked well. Schools shut down for strikes, elections, teacher training days with no adverse affect to pupils not to mention all of the overpriced school trips that take place which are supposed to be ‘educational’. None of the school trips I went on were educational! Only the more wealthy kids get to go on holiday out of school term so the non wealthy children don’t get the special family time! Cost of living is crippling for some and they deserve a break of which they can afford!

  4. Someone should make a petition for this! It is totally unacceptable and unfair. We can’t afford to travel with our kids anymore, and also we got fined in January because we decided to celebrate our Christmas on the 7th of January with our family, and the school didn’t find that as a good reason to accept the absence!!

    1. What if everyone were to do this? How disruptive would that be. They did it TWICE, School is about learning from lessons, shame they didn’t learn from the first fine.
      If they don’t like it pay for private school with some of that holiday money.

      1. This is so interesting for someone not from rhe UK. In Canada we are not penalized for attendance at all – especially not a fine. Its very common for people to take their kids put of school for special holidays as adults compete for summer vacation and Canadas summers are so short. This has never been desruptive to our school system at all – usually the teachers communicate their lessons early and the kids do it on the plane or before they come back.

        In high school i missed a month of school between long overseas school trips and my families trips to visit my dad in China and my education was not impacted at all.

      2. Everyone should do it. Children with healthy families due better in education, health, and overall life than children in other situations. I hope you have no children under your control, it would be horrid for them!

        1. Agree 💯 we did it my whole child hood! Best memories of my life! We had home work to complete while holidaying.

      3. I urge EVERYONE to do this! We have 365 days in a year. It’s not like the whole class is missing for the whole year. So what if every now and then a student is missing from the class due to various reasons? They may be sick, attending seminars, on competition, or simply going on family trip. Students can always catch up with the studies. We just have to make sure that the reasons for missing class is good. Student simply missing class regularly just to hang out at the mall is an absolute no no. But missing class for a few days every four years for a quality time with family is a perfectly good reasons!

      4. what a load of todswallop. The current education system fails in so many ways. After teaching 20yrs in the public system, I removed my children n home educate them. Our children learn more from a day at the beach, than 10days in school. Learning can take place anywhere ..and certainly NOT in the classrm.
        There’s more to life than the 4 walls of a classrm and the influential methods of one person. Maybe if more parents tool an interest on their children’s learning, they’d discover who and what their children are. You must really have hated every second your kids were at home during covid shut-downs! 😆

      5. Don’t be so ridiculous, Paul. They took them out of school for a total of 20 days in 4 years, that’s a little different from 20 days in one term, which I could understand school complaining about. How much time over that same 4 year period, did the government take them out of school? Get some perspective.

        As for your last comment, with £8k you would be lucky to get half a term for one child in a public school.

      6. I’m not British but pretty annoyed by your response. Maybe you don”t have children or if you do you are certainly not a committed father who wants to give children a wellrounded childhood. There is a difference between being too lazy to send children to school a justifiable reason for fining parents and taking children out of school for an overseas trip. We took ours out of school for a whole year to travel and being only one year apart it was easy to compare the differences. The year on the road visiting museums, factories, oceanside ponds with little sea creatures etc taught them much more than a year in the classroom did. My children went on to be asked to interview for positions. One is a software engineer and the other is a School Principal. The fines in this situation are just money grabbing from greedy Councils.

  5. 100% agree with this family. The not alot can afford to take there children in school holidays. I’m sure it should be against their Human rights to be dictated too and told they can’t have a holiday. Family time is so important and for working families they just can’t afford it. They should bring back the 2 week holiday entitlement rule for children it’s just too unfair. Way cheaper to take the fine and go in school time.

  6. Although I believe school is very important I do strongly believe that if your child’s attendance at school is good and they are doing well then a family holiday should be allowed without being fined. Family time is very precious these days and hold memories for everyone and if it helps financially to go out of term time I cannot see a problem. Not everyone can afford holidays during school holidays

  7. I don’t think the school has any right to tell when a parent can take a child on vacation especially if it isn’t affecting the child’s studies. They are not the ones who will be financing their vacation shld the parents go on vacation in the summer or during school breaks. This is totally unfair and the fines shld be refunded to the parents.

  8. Totally agree with this family.
    It’s absolutely fine for schools to shut down for striking teachers, but if a parent decides to take a holiday, all of a sudden it matters and “fines” have to be imposed???

  9. No school should have a right to tell a parent when they can take their children on holiday.
    As a parent, we constantly teach our children life experiences which can be just as informative as sitting at a desk with a book.
    As a Coach Tour Driver, I’ve taken many schools on holidays and I can honestly say there is nothing educational about them that a parent cant teach their own children. I see Teachers getting a free holiday as parents’ fees cover the cost.
    Fining parents for acting smart and teaching children how to save is ridiculous and borderline shameful.

  10. Totally agree with this family..schools should allow parents to take kids out of school 3 weeks in a year during school holidays..we have families in Australia and Nz but can’t afford to visit them in school holidays, and i havr 3 children have only seen they grandparents and families that side of the world once.And i have 3 .just can’t afford it..This is a gov that’s breaks families up..Petition is really needed on this rule 😢

  11. Its their kids and its their life. People miss school most of the time. Not a big deal. They should not be fine for wanting to take their children for a holiday. As long they keep up with what they left behind they should be fine. I support the parents on this. The school is just trying to rip them off some money.

  12. Being honest with the school is great, teaches your children to be honest, we did the same this year and saved £7,000, my only worry if families do take their children away during school term is to make sure they still spend quality time with them during the school break and not work for the full 6 weeks, for us as a family of 5 to go Spain in august is coming up at £8k this is crazy! So leaves us with no choice.

  13. I totally agree with taking children on holiday out of term time my daughter has seven children and if she took them away in school holidays it would cost way too much it’s not often she takes them on holiday with her being a one parent but she has saved up to be able to treat them this year and taking them abroad and no doubt she will get fined for each and every child it is totally unreasonable

  14. I feel this family was right to go away in term time ,Family time is just as important.Schools
    Don’t fine teachers when they are on strike or having teacher training and insets days that ok.
    Why one rule for one and not the other.Law needs to change to make it fair for all families to be able to go on holiday and not discriminate against those less fortunate.

  15. I had the same, i took my 4 children to flordia in febuary this year, i had told the school 3 years in advance we were and my job states in my contract i cant take time off in easter holidays or Christmas and although there is other half terms me and my husband work for the same company in the same department so for us to get time of together in the busy holiday is near impossible, we got back to 3 x fines for me (my 3 children) and 3 x fines for my husband (my step son and 2 of my children) i didnt. Get find for my step son and my husband didnt get find for one of my children (different school) and there bio dad didnt get a fine (which is fine as he didnt take them i did) school said that anyone with responsibility for the kids should get a fine so that being said shluld of got find for all kids and the bio dad ( yes it would of been more but my argument was if we going to have these rules make sure they consistent) i tried to argue it with school who said its head master decsion of whats exceptional or not i gave a long list of reasons and that wasnt good enough, with my job we dont get a lot of family time were we can all go at once so it was very much needed, and yes we went to universal but my kids learned so much on the trip, i didnt not want to pay the fine as didnt want to see my self in to court but i have other family members in similar situations that have been allowed to go but not been fine so again no consistency.

  16. As the mother could not take a break in August because too many other people were away then, this should be a valid reason to waive the fine. Schools should make allowances for people who can only take a break during term-time.

  17. Do the teachers think of our kids when they strike simple answer No they do not i dont blame this family i just hope they will be able to do it again so come on Teachers if you cant justify this family for taking advantage of a good holiday THEN DONT STRIKE simple .

  18. I would charge the school for every time the teachers go on ‘strike’ (not that I disagree with their reasons, but it’s the council who should sort this before strike action is needed) I am self employed so I can’t work if my kids aren’t at school, so the school should foot the bill for that. So £500 a day for each strike day… Soon adds up!? See how they like it then!

  19. It’s time the government took a stand with the travel companies, they are to blame for the extortionate hikes in the cost of holidays ensuring that families with children are penalised… they should be taken to task to ensure a fairer system is in place. Its pure greed on behalf of the travel companies and airlines.

  20. Ok I understand that the holidays are expensive but when you have such a small window when of opportunity to make the money to run your business and make a profit and being the rest of the years is extremely slow and it is a business. I grew up with three sisters and we did have the most expensive holidays but we were together as a family enjoying each others and making memories that will last a life time as a family

  21. But teachers can go on strike and affect out kids learning its a joke my kids are adults now but j done it twice a year aswelm but as fsr as am concerned it’s almost educational as they can learn loads from every different country we went too I wouldn’t pay it

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