Theresa May backed 'deprioritising' illegal migrant school places

Posted On: 
1st December 2016

Theresa May planned to withhold school places from the children of illegal immigrants when Home Secretary, according to leaked cabinet letters.

Theresa May is said to have proposed stricter tests on illegal migrant children admissions when Home Secretary.
PA Images

Measures that were subsequently dropped from the Immigration Bill, included the proposal to send children to the bottom of the school admissions queue if their families were found to be living in the country illegally.

The Home Office also drafted proposals requiring parents to show passports before offering children a school place, according to the BBC.

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Children under 16 have a right to an education whatever their parents' status.

The move was set to form part of a wider Whitehall shake-up, with departments urged to contribute to the Government's bid to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands.

One source said there was “disquiet among our own ministers about the potential for inflammatory comparisons” of taking action against illegal immigrants through their children.

The leaked report also shows then education secretary Nicky Morgan flagged up a number of concerns with Downing Street about the ideas mooted.

Ms Morgan raised the potential for immigration checks to disrupt the school admissions process and in presenting “practical and presentational issues” for the Government.

She also pushed the issue of worsening segregation, with fears this could lead to increased radicalisation.

"The overall effect of a deprioritisation measure would be to concentrate children of illegal migrants in the least popular schools in any area, jeopardising our increasingly important focus on tackling both segregation and extremism, and with consequent impacts on the children of British nationals who attend the schools,” she said.

"Introducing these checks could lead to some children not being registered for school because of real or perceived fear of deportation.

"Leaving aside the fact that these young people will not receive a decent education, this is a safeguarding risk - we have real concerns that children out of school maybe at greater risk of radicalisation or other harms."

Another Conservative source said: "It was one of those moments when the desire to control immigration comes up against real people's lives and our values."

The Government said they “do not comment on leaked documents”, however a spokesperson added: "It is only right that any government looks at a range of options when considering policy options, but ultimately it is for ministers to decide which policies are taken forward.

"We are building a system that works in the best interests of the British people and ensures that only those with a right to be in the UK can live and work here."