Thursday, November 30, 2006

Some advice for School Governors

Over on Leave Them Kids Alone website a new page has been set up dealing with the issues surrounding biometrics used in schools for their governors to consider.

"Over the past few months, we have been approached by a number of governors and head teachers and asked for our understanding of the matter; the following represents the position as far as we are aware. We have sought clarification from a number of leading QCs and barristers in producing these guidelines, and have used our best endeavours to cover as many of the relevant issues as possible."

On security and spending budgets there are some very valid points.

"Certainly a standard personal computer connected to a fingerprint scanner lying around in a school library would not generally be considered adequately protected.

Governors have a duty to obtain 'best value' for their delegated budget. So an argument could be made that spending significant sums of money on optional modules may not be the best way to use the delegated budget."

School governors, if they are consulted on purchases of a biometric technology (as I am aware of some circumstances when they have not been), need to think very carefully of the possible implications of having biometrics in schools.

The question has to be asked – Why is it left to Leave Them Kids Alone to advise governors? and well done to them for doing so... but where is the Governments advice on this?

Labour MP’s, as seen by answers given in Parliament this year, have no solid advice to offer at all to schools, parents or governors. The answers given by the government have been so flimsy that Tom Watson, a Labour MP, has called for advice from the DfES - see his petition.

As Janette Owen wrote in the Guardian only last week "We want information about fingerprinting - and we want it now. "

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