Suffolk

Ipswich school triggers inquiry into 'pupil aged 30'

Stoke High School, Ipswich
Image caption The Home Office is investigating how a man, possibly aged in his 30s, could have joined Stoke High School in Ipswich

An adult asylum seeker who posed as a 15-year-old student is being investigated by the government.

The Home Office confirmed it will be looking into how the man, who could be as old as 30, was allowed to join Stoke High School in Ipswich.

An age assessment carried out by the local authority found the individual to be over 18, meaning he could now face deportation.

The Home Office said age disputed cases "remain a challenging area of work".

A Year 7 pupil has also left the school, though it is understood their status as a child is accepted.

A spokeswoman said: "We are fully committed to safeguarding children and are looking into the circumstances of this case to understand how it was handled.

"In the absence of clear and credible documentary evidence, Home Office staff must rely on physical appearance and demeanour to make an initial assessment on whether a person claiming to be a child is under 18.

'Threat or danger'

"If an individual is assessed to be under 18 but subsequent concerns about their age are raised - for example, by a school - we will act quickly to reconsider the case."

Earlier this month, a pupil at Stoke High shared an image on social media with the message: "How's there a 30-year-old man in our maths class?"

The school, which initially contacted the Home Office, previously said it had "followed government and local authority policies and guidance, as we do for any asylum admissions matter".

It added the pupil "was not attending the school at this time".

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said: "I'm under the impression that both the school and the Home Office are not going to speak to anybody about this.

"I also do respect the privacy of the family and I believe that the younger of the two young people left the school because of the threat or danger that they might be seriously bullied.

"The whole thing is very unfortunate all round and the Home Office do have a duty to make sure people are the right age before people are sent to school."

One concerned parent, Victoria Newby, previously told the BBC: "My girls will not be attending until I know for sure he's been removed."

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But mother-of-three Victoria Thorpe said she would not be taking her 11-year-old son out of the school.

She said: "It's not the school's fault, they are in a hard position.

"I'm not going to take my son out because it would affect his education and because he's in Year 7 he's not going to be around him too much."

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