Home Office blocks Syrian boy going on Edinburgh school's ultimate trip

A Syrian refugee is set to miss out on the school trip of a lifetime to Majorca with his Edinburgh classmates after being told by the Home Office he does not have the correct documents.

Canal View Primary School's P7A class was one of nine groups of students throughout the UK to win a trip to Majorca.
Canal View Primary School's P7A class was one of nine groups of students throughout the UK to win a trip to Majorca.

Canal View Primary School’s P7A class produced a stop motion film which won a Jet2 competition for a holiday to Sol Katmandu Park & Resort in Majorca.

Staff and parents at the Wester Hailes school have been vigorously trying to complete passport applications with the majority of the pupils never being on holiday before.

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But 12-year-old Mohammed - a Syrian refugee resettled in the capital – will be unable to join his classmates on a school trip after learning that applying for his travel documents could take up to three months.

But with the flight to depart from Glasgow airport on April 20, there is a race against time for the boy to board the plane with his 25 classmates.

This has prompted an intervention from Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West, Joanna Cherry QC, who raised the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions today in the House of Commons.

Ms Cherry said: “Children at Wester Hailes Canal View Primary School in my constituency have just won the Ultimate School Trip competition with the prize of a holiday to Majorca next month.

“There’s just one problem Prime Minister, one of their class mates is a Syrian refugee and he’s been told by the Home Office that he can’t travel with his friends as he doesn’t have the proper documents.

“The Home Office say it will take three months for these documents to come through. Will the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary help me to cut through the red tape so this wee boy can go with his friends and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime?”

Prime Minister, Theresa May, responded to Ms Cherry saying: “Can I congratulate the primary school for winning this competition which has that travel as the prize and can I say to the honourable lady that my right honourable friend, The Home Secretary, has heard what she has said and will look into this case.”

Canal View is one of nine centres throughout the UK to land the top prize which will see pupils take part in fun educational workshops with celebrity hosts including comedy double act Dick & Dom.

The class created an animation to advertise the hotel which made it into a shortlist among four other Scottish schools after impressing Jet2holidays and Emmerdale star Anthony Quinlan.

Canal View blew away the rest of the competition by receiving the most votes out of the whole UK.

The children will participate in workshops focusing on science, history, drama and crafts, as well as some holiday fun time during a two-night stay.

The school has also claimed £1,000 worth of school equipment vouchers for being among the original 45 shortlisted schools.

Joanna Cherry QC MP said: “It is unacceptable that this young Syrian schoolboy will find himself excluded from joining his classmates on a dream holiday because of Home Office procedures. The Prime Minister must immediately step in and right this grievous wrong.

“I was contacted by Canal View’s Head Teacher Ann Moore yesterday asking if there was anything which I could do to help. The school and the class are obviously devastated that Mohammed has been told he can’t join them on this holiday of a lifetime.

“It is terrible to think of the hardship this wee boy has overcome to get to Edinburgh and start a new life in safety. Today I have asked the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to intervene and make sure Mohammed can join his class mates.

“I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has indicated that the Home Secretary will look into this case and I shall make sure she does so urgently.”

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