VOTE: Anger over school’s bid to fingerprint its pupils

A parent has criticised a Chichester school for treating students like criminals after plans were announced to finger-print children.

Chichester High School for Girls is planning to introduce the technology, to create a ‘cashless’ canteen, whereby students will only need their finger prints to get school lunches, paid for in advance by cheque, cash or direct debit by parents.

Parents have been sent a letter saying the system will be coming into place on March 10, with a question and answer meeting taking place on February 28.

But software engineer, Sebastian Quelcutti, whose 13-year-old daughter Deanna goes to the school feels it is completely inappropriate to finger print children.

“As far as I’m concerned the only people that should be fingerprinted are criminals,” he said.

“There has been no consultation with parents. One of the questions I pose straight away is how secure is this system? Is it attached to a public network? Who has access to it?

“It begs the question how far is it going to be rolled out. It’s for the library and canteen but how long before they are used to get in and out of school, and how far does it get taken following that.

“I have been researching it on the web and children as young as five are being fingerprinted so they can get meals from the canteen at school.

“The parents have been allowed four weeks before it is due to go live, it gives us no time to get together some support or investigate it.”

The school sent out letters to parents last week explaining how the biometric system works, and giving them a chance to opt out if they do not want their child to be fingerprinted.

Each account will have a daily spend limit of £4. The system will work in exactly the same way for students who have free school meals.

As well as the fingerprint the child’s name, class, and photo, will be kept on record but will, the school says, be kept under the rules of the data protection act.

The letter also says that once the fingerprint is taken, it is turned into another piece of data unique to each student, and the fingerprint image is then discarded and once students leave the school all their data is deleted.