Half of schools using fingerprint systems

A scan of a fingerprint
A scan of a fingerprint
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Fingerprint technology is being used by around half of secondary schools in and around Aylesbury, The Bucks Herald can reveal.

The Aylesbury Vale Academy, Aylesbury Grammar School, Aylesbury High School and Princes Risborough School all use some form of biometric technology, while the Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School is introducing a system this month.

Three schools surveyed by the Herald said they do not use the technology, while three did not respond to the request.

Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch said it is imperative that parents are properly informed about how the systems work and how secure they are.

Most schools said they use the systems at meal times, with some stressing that it is not the fingerprints that are kept on file but an encrypted code or pattern created when students’ fingers are scanned.

The Floyd is introducing a cashless catering system from February 24, with all parents being given information about the system.

Assistant headteacher Ian Bryant said: “Only if they opt in will the system be used to register a thumb print which is converted to a numeric code.

“For those who opt out, a PIN number is issued to the student/staff to use at the till point.”

The introduction of new legislation last year means schools must obtain written permission from parents before a child’s biometric data is taken.

Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said it is up to parents to make sure the law is being followed.

She said: “Going to school should not mean kids are taught they have no privacy, especially at a time when we are sharing more data about ourselves than ever before.

“Fingerprinting them and tracking what they do might save some admin work but the risk is pupils think it is normal to be tracked like this all the time.”

The Aylesbury Vale Academy said parents can request that their child’s biometric record is deleted and this can be done at any time.