School is fingered over scanner plan

A WORRIED parent is urging a Worle school to rethink its plans to introduce a fingerprint scanning system. The cashless payment system (CPS)

A WORRIED parent is urging a Worle school to rethink its plans to introduce a fingerprint scanning system.The cashless payment system (CPS) is being introduced as part of a new £1.6 million state-of-the-art restaurant at Worle Community School.The CPS will mean pupils no longer use cash to pay for meals at the till, but will have their finger scanned instead and the amount deducted from a pre-paid account.In a recent letter headteacher Trevor Bailey informed parents that all pupils' fingerprints will be scanned at the school from June 26-28, ahead of the introduction of the system in September.But a mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, has contacted the Weston & Somerset Mercury with concerns that parents were not consulted about the fingerprinting or asked for their consent for it to be done.She is also concerned about possible long-term health effects of daily scanning and whether taking children's fingerprints without permission is legal.She said: "There was no meeting to discuss the issue, nor were we asked for explicit consent. Parents do not even know if the fingerprinting is compulsory."In the letter we received it said the print would be recreated into a number and then discarded, but when I did some research it seems the image cannot be discarded as a template must exist. Therefore, it can be recreated."In light of a 'big brother' state, who has access to this information? Has any research been done on how daily scanning might affect our children's health? Is this legal and who told the school it was?" Mr Bailey said: "As was pointed out in the letter, any parent with any concerns about the process is very welcome to contact the school."My understanding is that nobody has raised any concerns. The fingerprint is deleted from the system and the system will hold a numeric code, not a print. "Any data on the system will be deleted upon the pupil leaving the school."Mr Bailey also says the scanners will cut queues and speed up service as well as reducing the possibility of children being bullied for their lunch money or spending it on items other than school meals, such as cigarettes. The CPS can also be used to set spending limits on accounts and improve pupils' diets by limiting them to selected food categories and highlighting if they are choosing an unbalanced diet.According to the manufacturers of the scanners the system can be used to provide reports for parents which will show which foods their children have been buying.Mr Bailey said: "At present we will not be using that part of the system, but we will look at it in the future.

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