Son's school is starting biometric system and we have no say in the matter!

(40 Posts)
flossfour Wed 20-Feb-13 16:37:43

I have been given a letter by my son's school telling me that come Easter, it will be compulsory to use ParentPay's biometric system for all school purchases, including meals. This means there will be an outside company who will now have to fingerprint my son and contain his, and my financial and personal, details in order to work. There has been no hint that this was on the cards, it was just presented as a done deal, without any consultation with parents beforehand.

Does anyone else find this completely creepy and frightening? Is anyone else using this system that can tell me anything about this company? How long before this method will be used for registration?

You know I think there are just more important things to worry about.
No more searching for cash before the school run, no more sending in cheques.
All I had to do was go on-line once and put my details in.
I chose to leave a credit card to top up automatically.
Done.
I can, if I wish, log on and see what he has purchased.

MakeMineALargeRose Fri 22-Feb-13 22:41:42

My dd's school does this using parent pay, I think it's fantastic, no more messing around with change or risking losing money at school. When I was at school I used to buy a mars bar and a packet of 10 cigs, with parent pay I can see exactly what she's eaten everyday and know exactly where my money gone. I've never heard of anyone having an issue, card details aren't stored, it's very user friendly and i can't see what risk it poses. I wish they'd have had this at her last school! You'll be converted in no time once it starts being used.

SanityClause Sat 23-Feb-13 19:11:33

DD1's school have a cashless card system (sQuid) which is quite good, but DD2's school has ParentPay, and it's really good. They can pay with cash, but the queues are much shorter for the cashless checkouts.

I also really like being able to see what she has bought, as I can encourage her to make healthy choices.

DD2 will come home and say, "Mummy, can I have some more money on my finger?" Cute!

I wish DS1's school did it via parent pay. Not because I want to monitor what he's eating or whatever but because it would be easier than giving him cash to put on his account.

boomting Mon 25-Feb-13 01:01:21

I share your unease, and so does Liberty, which gives some useful advice here www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/jul/16/fingerprinted-child-school

The government is banning schools from taking biometric data without parental permission from September this year, so it would seem that your school is trying to get in before that deadline www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9764739/Schools-banned-from-fingerprinting-pupils.html

This indicates that you can indeed refuse to have your son's fingerprints taken www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/education-quandary-can-our-son-refuse-to-join-his-schools-fingerprint-canteen-system-and-still-have-a-hot-meal-at-lunchtime-1832601.html

I would suggest a firm letter to the school so that something is in writing, along with ideally a chat with the form tutor and some strongly worded instructions to your son.

flossfour Mon 25-Feb-13 11:00:07

Boomting: Thank you for those links, very interesting. And I think this is my point of unease: not the fact that they are using this now, it probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but the fact that I am worried this is the start of a very slippery slope. Will my children grow up to think this is all perfectly normal? It seems the introduction of ID cards is not so far a leap. I already feel like I live in a society where everyone is watched constantly. Oh dear, I sound like I will be wearing a tin foil hat in the near future, don't I?? Sorry!

Do you have a nectar card or a Tesco club card OP?

boomting Tue 26-Feb-13 01:14:11

@ArbitraryUsername I'm not really sure how that's relevant - the data collected on spending habits is hardly on a par with biometric data - and let's not forget that you can change your nectar card number, but you can't change your fingerprints.

boomting Tue 26-Feb-13 01:18:23

Probably ought to add that I once worked in a place that decided it wanted to introduce the same technology for clocking in and clocking out. I was leaving anyway, but if they had got their act together and installed it before I was due to leave then I would have gone earlier. It was a pub, not Sellafield FFS! There's really no need for them to be using this sort of data when a pin number or swipe card would do perfectly well instead (and let's not infantilise people, especially adults, with worries about losing cards. If it's important to the child, they invariably look after it well enough. I managed to go through the whole of secondary school without once losing my house keys, so I'm sure others can manage it too).

It is relevant because what the OP seems to be worried about is being constantly watched and monitored (see her last post), which is what you sign up for with a points card like that. Similarly my passport is a means of monitoring my movement. It includes biometrics and a number I can't change.

Chopsypie Tue 26-Feb-13 08:44:51

It may just be me being uneducated (and I'm not being snotty here, I'm genuinely curious) but why is them having his finger print a bad thing?

What possible use is a fingerprint?

MoreBeta Tue 26-Feb-13 09:02:12

Cards get lost and bullying is an issue so yes removing cash from school is a good idea. However, a 4 digit pin would do just the same job.

Why does it have to be biometric scanning of finger prints?

I read a piece on a very good blog a few years ago about this suggesting that getting children programmed to always put their finger in a scanner at school would lead then to accept it more readily in adult life too in future.

I know everyone always say the machine does not store your actual finger print but I can tell you it is only a matter of time before police get a court order to put the scanned details on a database that they can access. They already have a huge amount of DNA data from teenagqers that have never commited a crime but just got swept up in mass arrests outside pubs and clubs whenever there is some street disturbance. You have no right to have it removed and the target is to have over 60% of the 16 - 25 yr olds on the database and once they have that they can pretty much connect all of those records to everyone else in the population through family relations.

These things are always done for our own good but there is a commercial organisation behind this who wil have complete control over the database and how it is used and Govt would find it very useful to have the records as well.

maisiejoe123 Wed 27-Feb-13 17:28:54

I have never heard of this system but what a good idea. No hunting around for money etc etc -

And - I like the idea of complusory ID cards.

ProPerformer Wed 27-Feb-13 17:49:17

I hope we never have it at the school I teach at - Ive tried 5, yes 5 biometric finger scanning machines in my time, (for various things, school library, canteen at workplace I did work experience at,) and 0, yes 0 worked with my fingers!!
Don't know what's wrong with them, if it's my hyperhydrosis or something but they just don't seem to work for me. hmm

INeverSaidThat Wed 27-Feb-13 18:00:42

I think it is a fab idea and I would welcome it.

I am very much in favour of national ID cards. I am not a spy either

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