Family Fined $900 for Taking Kids Out of School for a Holiday

A quick search for flights and it’s easy to note the MASSIVE difference in price based on school holidays. You could be looking at several thousands of dollars in difference.

This is exactly the case for UK couple, Paul and Jessica Bensen who noticed an incredible £8,000 (that’s around 15,000 AUD) difference to fly in off-peak, aka school-term time. 

Fly in September for around $15,000 cheaper 

The couple has defended the decision to take a family trip to Florida in September which meant taking kids out of school for a holiday. After they returned from the two-week holiday, the family was met with a fine from the school for £480 (900 AUD). 

The family from Redcar in North Yorkshire was looking at around £12,000 to take the holiday during peak season. However, in September, they were able to go for just £3,700. For them, it was a no-brainer and the family of five booked the trip. 

When the family informed their children’s school about the trip, they were met with disapproval, followed by a fine after they returned from the trip. 

half-price holiday
Source: Bigstock

Fined for a holiday

Paul said he was made to feel as though the holiday was a ‘criminal activity’.

“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.”

Like many families, travel during peak season wasn’t just financially unattainable, but also impossible for Jessica’s career. 

“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.”

There are a lot of positives about taking the kids out of school to spend time as a family and Paul argues that his children, aged 10 and 12, continued to learn outside of the school environment for those two weeks. 

“They’re learning about travelling abroad and the different cultures over there, different ways of doing things.”

However, the school didn’t see it this way. 

“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.”

This isn’t the first time Paul and Jessica have decided to travel during school term time – the couple did the same trip in 2018 and back then were also warned that their travel during school term wasn’t recommended. 

What’s the rule in Australia? 

Paul and Jessica live in the UK so could the schooling system have a different approach over there? While every school will be different, in Australia, taking the kids out of school for holidays is highly frowned upon. And, yes, it can also result in a fine. 

In Queensland, for example, the department states that holidays during term time should be “actively discouraged”. Any absences of more than 10 consecutive school days require an exemption. 

Parents can also receive a fine for breaching the Compulsory Schooling Order. Penalties for these offences carry a maximum fine of $11,000. 

Every family and every school is different. I know my daughter’s school isn’t too keen on families going away during the school term but I also know of a family that went away for three weeks at the start of school and they were not fined. It most likely depends on the circumstance. 

Should you take your kids out of school for a holiday? 

I think this depends entirely on the values of every family. Travel is such a beautiful thing to instill in our children’s lives and, for some families, the only financial option is to travel in off-peak season. Allowing for these memories and opportunities is far more important than regular school attendance. 

Of course, school is important too, and actively attending school teaches children a good lesson in responsibility. Some children may be okay to leave school for two or three weeks while for others, this could be problematic, especially for older kids. Older kids also have other commitments, including sport, that they may be able (or want) to miss. 

What do you think? Would you take your kids out of school for a holiday, even if it meant a fine? 

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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