Students to pay for school meals - by fingerprint

Churchfields began using the biometric system in 2010 - now Nova Hreod in Moredon and Isambard in North Swindon are to follow suit

Churchfields began using the biometric system in 2010 - now Nova Hreod in Moredon and Isambard in North Swindon are to follow suit

First published in News by

HUNDREDS of students at two schools will have their fingerprints taken to pay for meals using a biometric system.

Nova Hreod in Moredon and Isambard in North Swindon will introduce the technology to make transactions and record-keeping more efficient.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb called biometrics a “sensitive issue” last month and said parents should have the right to opt out.

But proponents say the images are transformed into a mathematical algorithm which cannot be used by any other agency and the information is deleted when pupils move on.

The schools will introduce the system on July 16, with students registering their fingerprints the week before.

Public sector infrastructure management firm John Laing is introducing the change under a private finance agreement with the schools.

When a student pays for a meal they put their finger on a scanner which shows their name, class and current balance. The food items are entered into the system from an itemised keyboard and the amount spent and the new cash balance shows on the display.

Students who do not wish to use the system can use an alternative method of identification.

Isambard says in a leaflet explaining the plans that the technology alleviates “many of the problems associated with the use of cash within the school, through loss, theft, or bullying”.

The school, which currently uses a swipe card system, also cites convenience and speed of service and says the system encourages responsibility.

About three in 10 secondary schools are thought to be fingerprinting or face-scanning with other uses including to record attendance and register library loans.

From September next year parents of children under 18 will have the legal right to veto a school’s request for collect biometric information.

Mr Gibb said last month: “Biometrics in schools is a sensitive issue.

“We want schools to be in no doubt of their responsibilities when it comes to young people’s personal data.

“I have heard from many angry parents after they have learned that their children’s personal data was being used by schools without their knowledge.

“The new legislation gives the power back to parents, as it requires parental consent before the information can be collected.”

The biometric system has been in use at Churchfields Academy since 2010 and The Commonweal School since 2009.

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