Family fined £480 for taking children out of school to save £8,000 on trips to Disney World
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A dad has defended his decision to take his kids on holiday during term time - twice - because he saved £8,000 on the price of the trips, even after being whacked with a fine.
Paul Benson, 35, and wife Jessica, 34, were fined £480 for taking their two daughters on holiday to Disney World in Florida.
Paul says he was made to feel as though the holiday was a ‘criminal activity’, but insists that they were right to fly off in September, as the price of their two-week stay was £3,700, rather than £12,000 in peak season.
Paul said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Paul and Jessica, from Redcar in North Yorkshire, first took their two kids, Ruby, and George, out of school in September for a trip to Disney World, Florida, in 2018.
And they then repeated the trip last year during the same period when the pair, now aged 12 and ten respectively, were accompanied by his new baby Olive, two.
Paul says he was warned by teachers on both occasions about taking unauthorised absence, but says NHS worker Jessica was limited in the time that she could take off during normal school holiday periods.
He went on: “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.
“And they’re learning about travelling abroad and the different cultures over there, different ways of doing things.”
But the school clearly disagrees and the family were fined in December.
He added: “It was a massive sting trying to get Christmas presents, and then you get that massive £240 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.”