Thursday 5 April 2012

Time To Remove School Fingerprinting Machines, Then?

Mark Wadsworth performed one of his trademark amusing skits last week, very well-constructed it was too.

I couldn't help but be reminded, however, that the referred article at the Standard seems to have destroyed the prime justification for fingerprint technology in schools.
A girl of six was given bread and jam instead of a hot school dinner because her mother was £4 in arrears.

Hazel Lebby, 37, says she was shocked to discover her daughter Hannah had been denied a lunch after she fell behind with her payments to St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary in Commonside East, Mitcham.
Now, presumably, other kids would have seen this and - as is the case being presented - have been laughing at how her parents couldn't afford to provide her with funds necessary for her lunch.

We're told that bullying is the result of such inability to pay, hence one of the most quoted reasons for using biometrics.
Most commonly, in schools where children still pay with cash for their dinners, pupils eligible for free meals are given tickets.

The AM believes this makes it easy for such children to be identified and put at risk of bullying.

She recommends rolling out a system by which children have accounts to pay for school dinners which can be topped up either by their parents or by the local authority if they qualify for school meals.

All pupils would then pay for their meals by a biometric reading of their fingerprint at the till without anyone knowing how their account was funded.
If the response by schools to someone who has been a bit late with payments is their child being visibly singled out - highlighting what might be taken as poor parental finances - doesn't that completely obliterate the stigmatisation argument?

I think we're being lied to again.


Frank J said...

Two slices of Bread and Jam? Do the DoH know about that? Apoplexy!

Even with a biometric system, if the money wasn't topped up, wouldn,t they still give her bread and jam? It must be me but I can't see a difference.

Either way, they're a bunch of disgusting Tossers.

c777 said...

Yes it is all beginning to look a bit sinister is it not?

Jay said...

I was a free school lunch kid in school.   It was humiliating.  Kids can be cruel bastards.  On the other hand, we didn't have to pay for shitty food.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Exactly, Frank. It would certainly be the same policy whether using fingerprinting or not. So why the need for biometrics to save kids' embarrassment and stigmatisation ... when schools inflict it anyway?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

The girl little P was told she would be fingerprinted on an induction day prior to her first term in secondary. No mention of it whatsoever to the parents. Mrs P rang the school and said she wanted a card issued instead, and the school were fine about it. It's an option any parent can request and they'll grant it. But they don't tell any parents about beforehand.

The cards work exactly the same way with online top ups (thereby concealing who is on free meals) so why this eager rush to install fingerprinting machines, I don't know. My best guess is that schools and public sector education bods think of them as some exciting new toy. 

Jay said...

I've got two friends who are both school headmasters.  I must have a chat with them to see what they're doing and how they feel about fingerprinting, etc.

I don't agree with fingerprinting anyone unless they've committed a crime.  I can't see the need for it in a school at all, even a really big school.  It's all too big brotherish for my tastes.  I fail to see how fingerprinting kids protects them in any way.  Like plain packs.  So, yeah, I'm with you.

Séan Billings said...

How do you expect your children's generation to meekly accept the fingerprinting of all citizens and biometric security at every turn, when the time comes, if they haven't been desensitized to it from an early age?

Still waiting said...

Excuse me , Ladies and Gentlemen,just one moment,
Are you really trying to tell us,in 2012,there are families who cannot afford to pay for their childrens school dinners.
Indeed ,in the Media and on the Web,there are ample mounds and hillocks
of top notch bullshit ,but the above issue would fill one of the near empty
As for fingerprinting for one's lunch,if that is the case ,it is definitely time
to man (and woman) the barricades.

Rip Van Winkel

Andy5759 said...

Back in the day, somewhere between leaving school and now, fingerprints were taken upon being charged. If the charges were dropped, or one was found not guilty, the records were destroyed. Hence the expression "Police Record". No crime = no record. The concept of a DNA database runs contrary to this principle. This trend of keeping state records on everyone is to be resisted. thirty or forty years ago fingerprinting schoolchildren would have been met with outrage and even possibly violence. How complacent we have become. I really hope the Old Swan Party gets some serious funding when it launches in the autumn.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

One thing it does do is make sure kids don't forget to bring their card in with them, so reducing hassle for staff. But then, it also teaches them not to have to be aware of bringing stuff with them when they go out.

Believe me, as a parent I know that kids should be taught by bitter experience to remember to bring what they need with them. Quite apart from the sinister undertone, fingerprints just take that little bit more installation of thought out of education. 

Mudplugger said...

Similar to finger-printing schoolkids "for the dinner-money system" is the trick of using ANPR cameras on entrance and exit to calculate your car-parking charge (airport drop-offs are favourite) - it's nothing to do with dinner-money or car-parking charges, it's just more cunningly unavoidable ways of the State capturing more information about your life.
Once all fingerprints have been 'captured' at school, that data-file will find its way into the permanent central archive for 'future reference', just like the dates & times your car has entered and left various places.
Where's George Orwell when you need him ?

Andrew Duffin said...

Apart from my horror at the idea of children being systematically fingerprinted (it's so that they'll love Big Brother when they grow up, isn't it?), I'm just wondering when they started charging for school meals?

When I was at school (and yes I know that was a little before Noah's flood), you just went in and queued up and got fed.

When did this change and why?

Ian R Thorpe said...

Whatever the Thought Police do it always achieves the opposite of what's intended.