Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Halesowen is yet another school that has introduced a fingerprinting system ostensibly to encourage healthy eating. The new system cost £23,000 to install and, as usual, the school received a Government grant to help with costs. The angry comments by parents at the end of the article would seem to outweigh the complacent ones. The headteacher stated:

This is a Government-backed initiative and will help the school with our healthy eating policy. Parents will be able to know that their children are eating healthy and they are not spending their dinner money at the local shops on chocolate or chips.”

If this is a problem then could not the children be kept in school?

Whenever there is an article like this the headteacher invariably claims that parents' fears are groundless, that the system merely converts pupils' fingerprints to a number and that no images of fingerprints are kept. They always repeat this 'information.' Well, this 'technical' nonsense comes courtesy of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency Becta which is a quango advising schools on technology. Quote:

A numerical value is derived from the child’s fingerprint when it is first placed on the reading device .... Schools do not keep an image of the fingerprint.

The spin is that this is all totally innocuous and bears no relationship to how the police and others store fingerprint templates or even how computers work! There are numerous security and privacy issues which could be very serious but the major offence is the principle that fingerprinting of children is becoming widespread in educational settings so that children find this 'normal', that the teachers do not seem to mind, that this does not contravene data protection rules, that it is not mandatory to ask for parental consent and does not even merit parliamentary discussion.

Perhaps if the teachers' fingerprints were also on the database there might be some protest?

Leave Them Kids Alone LTKA gives the pros and cons.

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