A Home Office investigation has been launched after an asylum seeker at a secondary school who claimed to be 15 ‘is balding and looks 40’.
Questions about his ‘true age’ have been raised after a picture uploaded of him on social media reportedly shows he has a balding hairline and looks like an adult.
More than 70 parents of pupils at the school in Coventry commented on the post with many saying they intend to take the matter further after they were told correct checks had been made.
The ‘teenage boy’ is believed to have arrived in the UK without documentation before being placed at the school.
One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “Pupils were coming home saying there’s a man in our class, some were even saying they reckoned he could be aged up to 40, Coventry Live reports.
“He has a thin hair line and apparently he has no birth certificate or passport.
“He might be the right age, he might not. Either way parents would like some clarity.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “Our asylum system is broken and in drastic need of reform. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.”
Coventry City Council sent a letter to parents after a picture of the student – who had enrolled for the first time in an upper school year group – was posted on social media.
The message was sent out “to clarify our guidance and reassure parents regarding accepting pupils on roll” and added all necessary procedures had been followed in checking the age of the new starter.
The letter continues: “All local authorities and trusts are obliged to work within the guidance as set out by the Department for Education and also immigration processes.
“When pupils arrive in England and present an application for a school place, we ( local authorities and schools) are obliged to process these applications.
“If there are concerns or doubts regarding a pupil’s age at the time of application, schools and local authorities are able to ask for further evidence in the form of birth certificates and passports.
“However, please note, on some rare occasions if pupils arrive as asylum seekers and alone, ie without parents, these may not always be available.”
The letter ends by stating that the school follows all the necessary procedures and “always seeks the council’s support in such matters”.
The Home Office spokesman said: “Our asylum system is broken and in drastic need of reform. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.”
A spokesman for the school said: “While it is inappropriate to comment on individual pupils, we can confirm we have clear procedures in place in conjunction with the local authority to ensure all of our pupils have the right to attend and learn [at the school].
“Where a pupil from overseas applies for a school place, we follow the guidance set out by the Department for Education and, where necessary, seek evidence, in the form of a birth certificate and passport to confirm the pupil’s identity and age.
“I want to reassure parents we have followed all the correct procedures regarding the identity of all pupils placed on the school roll.”