MP takes up students’ fingerprinting fears

Devon Herald Express
17.11.2009

STUDENTS at Kingsbridge Community College have launched classroom rebellion over the decision to start ‘fingerprinting’ pupils using their college canteen.

And the youngsters have won the support of Totnes MP Anthony Steen who said he is taking the issue direct to the Secretary of State for schools Ed Balls.

The scheme using biometric systems based on ‘contours’ of a fingerprint was introduced at the college a few weeks ago.

A delegation of four students met with head teacher Roger Pope last week to protest over the introduction of the scheme, which is purely voluntary.

They wrote to Mr Steen claiming the scheme infringes their civil liberties and expressing concerns over possible identity theft.

They told the MP: “Roger Pope is going is going to discuss our objections with the Governors, but in the meantime we are trying to gather more evidence and support for our cause.

“We would be interested to know where you stand on this matter and would welcome your support if possible.”

Kingsbridge School has 1,380 pupils and the new system for paying for meals is aimed at some 1,000 youngsters aged from 11 to 16 years.

Plans to introduce a similar scheme at King Edward VI Community College earlier this year provoked protests from some worried parents.

Mr Pope said some 600 families had signed up to the scheme and that around 85 per cent of all transactions for meals were now done using the new system.

But he stressed the scheme was purely voluntary and no-one was being forced to use it.

“Some parents have said for whatever reason they don’t want to use this system and we have no problem,” he said.

He said Mr Steen had yet to contact him or the school about his concerns and added: “Mr Steen clearly does not understand the system.”

He explained not only does it mean parents can be sure their youngsters are spending their money on proper school meals but it is also ‘reducing queuing and reduces admin costs so we can spend more money on educational equipment’.

He said of the student protest: “Four individuals have spoken to me and I have told them I will investigate their concerns and get back to them.”

Mr Steen said: “I am in touch with the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP, asking what the Government’s view is.

“I hope he doesn’t tell me the state knows best and individuals are merely cogs in the glorious system.”

Full Article

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