Author: Tanveer Mann
The alleged asylum seeker who is believed to be Iranian is said to have told authorities when he arrived in the UK that he was a 15-year-old boy. Despite looking a lot older, he allegedly started as a pupil last term at Stoke High School in Ipswich, Suffolk.
The pupil, who is now in Year 11 and studying for his GCSEs, is said to have told classmates that he is far older than his official age. He allegedly said that he needed to study at the school because his previous qualifications were not recognised in the UK.
One pupil posted a picture of the ‘boy’ in uniform in a classroom on Snapchat with a message saying: ‘How’s there a 30-year-old man in our maths class?’ Parents of other pupils have called for him to be removed from the school, saying it is obvious that he has lied about his age to stay in the UK and get an education. Some have threatened on social media to withdraw their children from the 680-pupil school in protest. The pupil is believed to have had his age assessed by being asked question by immigration officials when he apparently arrived in the UK without paperwork after travelling via Germany.
As a result of concerns expressed by parents, the school which is run by the Ormiston Academies Trust has now asked the Home Office to investigate. The pupil is said to have now taken down his Facebook page which allegedly showed a profile picture of him with a beard, taking a selfie. One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘My son goes to the school and it is not a nice thought that this man is around children and sitting with them at lunch.’ A father of two girls at the school described the presence of the pupil as ‘incredible’ and said there were ‘genuine fears and concerns’ about him. The father added: ‘I heard about it and went in to the school to complain, but I was fobbed off. They are deluded and seem more worried about how the bloke might feel. ‘It is an important safeguarding issue. I am not aware of this lad having done anything inappropriate, but its clearly wrong that he should be in a class with children.’ Anther parent said: ‘This is extremely concerning. He has told students he has had to lie to go get into high school to complete his GCSEs.’
The Facebook page S**t Suffolk stated in a post on Thursday: ‘One parent originally voiced their concerns to the school over 2 weeks ago and had it confirmed to them that the case would be passed over to safeguarding. ‘This was not done until today following a barrage of phone calls from, understandably angry parents, after various posts on Facebook last night. If true, this is an utterly unbelievable breach of safeguarding and one that is currently being investigated by the police.’
But a mother with children at the school defended the pupil, saying it could not be proved how old he actually was and it was unfair for him to be targeted. The mother posted: ‘My kids both have said that in person, he looks a lot lot younger than these photos. I have to agree with them from when I also saw him in person.
‘I also have to say, my son is in different classes with him and never found him to be disruptive, abusive to the teachers, rude or generally a hindrance to others education, a somewhat different story to some of the kids at the school. ‘My daughter, like all Of her friends has not been approached by him either. So yeah, in short, right now I don’t have an issue with it until I see some actual real proof other than hear say and rumours.’
It is believed that the pupil is still registered at the school, but has stayed away in recent days.
A statement issued by the Ormiston Academies Trust said: ‘This is a matter for the Home Office. They are looking into this after we contacted them. ‘We do not comment on individual cases but we have followed government and local authority policies and guidance, as we do for any asylum admissions matter.’
A Home Office statement said: ‘We do not routinely comment on individual cases.’ A Suffolk Police spokesman said he did not believe its officers were involved in the case.