Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Parents to be consulted about biometric systems in Sussex school

Warden Park School in Cuckfield, Sussex, could be using childrens fingerprints for paying for school lunches:

"The biometric technology could be introduced at the school as early as June if parents support the proposals.

Using pupils' fingerprints in schools has been criticised by many MPs, including Sussex Conservatives Nick Gibb and Tim Loughton, who fear sensitive information about children could fall into the wrong hands.

Mr Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, has said it is another step towards a surveillance society."

At least the school is going to consult with parents but according to headteacher Steve Johnson hundreds of schools in the region now used the technology.

If Warden Park School make their decision in favour of the technology a Freedom of Information Act Request could be in order to determine:

Our public money cost. Cost/benefit analysis. (One such system sold to a school in Leeds, according to the Headteacher on BBC Radio 4 "You and Yours" programme, cost £14,000 - after a Freedom of Information request this turned out to be over £27,000 - only a slight misrepresentation of 13K of our money!)

Where/which budget the money to purchase system is coming from.

The extent of parental consultation.

How this technology can "reduce bullying" i.e. related bullying figures re: catering before installation.

How many instances of "children stealing other pupils' dinner money" happened before biometric catering system installed.
A spokesperson from the company hoping to sell the system to the school stated that the "guidelines from the Department for Children, Schools and Families made it clear data could not be passed to any third party organisations" - erm... not quite true, see Q50 & 51 in parliament.

No comments: