Saturday, December 16, 2006

Only biometric registration to go!

Dyke House Secondary School in Hartlepool, Cleveland, have just spent £25,000 on a biometric finger scanner for its canteen. Yes, £25,000 for the sake of quicker queues - amazing!

More truthfully, the probable reason Dyke House puchased this technology is so that school managers and parents can monitor what their students are eating. But even so...£25,000?

Can the governors of the school really justify this huge amount of money simply to speed up the dinner lines? Governors are expected to provide good-quality schooling and spend public money wisely. £25,000 is certainly a lot of money to spend on catering technology and this on top of the cost of the biometric scanner they already have in their library.

I’m sure the money already spent could have been used in a way that children actually benefit from, rather than glitzy technology that probably works, certainly makes report generating easier but nevertheless costs the salary of a teacher. The deputy head and the pupils think the system is "fantastic" - but so is a 2 week holiday to the Seychelles or a nice car but it doesn't necessarily justify the cost.

Mind you, Dyke House Secondary School have just won a BECTA award in ICT...

Pointing way to hi-tech future

- TASTY school meals are just a fingertip away for children at a futuristic school.

Pupils at Dyke House Secondary School, in Hartlepool, are enjoying a hi-tech way of paying for their school meals. Instead of paying with standard swipe cards or money, they are using a biometric reading machine. It records unique details from the tips of their fingers which will be converted into a number which they can top up with money.

Deputy headteacher John Taylor said the scheme, which costs £25,000, was “fantastic.” He said: “The pupils can put their dinner money into the machine and it will automatically load into their account the same way a swipe card would work.” Mr Taylor said the pupils think the scheme is fantastic and really hi-tech. “You’d never believe schools would have things like this. “They don’t have to remember their swipe cards - it’s simple, the children can’t forget their fingers.”

He said: “We have been running a similar fingertip recognition system in our library to loan books. I’m almost certain we are the only school in the town to use such a machine.” Mr Taylor added that the lunch queue was now running much quicker and smoother thanks to the new system, which also helps to take away the stigma of which children are eligible for free meals.

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