Fuming dad fined £480 for taking kids to Disney World in term time to save £8k

A furious dad defended his decision to take his kids on holiday during term time because the trips were £8,000 cheaper.

Paul Benson, 35, and wife Jessica, 34, were fined £480 for taking their children on holiday to Disney World in Florida.

He claims his children were "ostracised" from their primary school, adding the school made their family trip a "criminal activity".

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Paul, from Redcar, North Yorkshire, says the breaks last September cost £3,700 for a two-week stay, compared to a staggering £12,000 in peak season.

His eldest daughter went on to score in the top 1% of the country in her SATs exams, despite being told by teachers the a holiday would effect her education.

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 said he had first taken his two kids, Ruby and George, out of school in September for a trip to Disney World, Florida, in 2018.

He 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.

But on both occasions, he said teachers had warned him about taking the time off before informing Redcar and Cleveland Council about their unauthorised trips.

He said: “Our school is quite hot on attendance. The school basically informed us that they are going to pass it on to the local authority.

“We’d got to parents evening and they say ‘Your child is not doing as well as you’ve gone on holiday and that’s going to have a massive impact on their learning.

"In September, the head teacher pulled me aside.

“They said: ‘I hope you’re not planning to go on any trip to Florida or trips abroad this year as it’s going to impact your child’s education.'"

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Paul said he received the fines from the council in December.

He has called on the council to be more "fair" with parents after learning that pals at different schools had not been fined for doing the same thing.

Paul 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.”

Redcar and Cleveland Council said it would review the current criteria for issuing fines and explore other solutions


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