Children go hungry amid roll-out of school’s new fingerprint-scanning system
- Credit: IAN BURT
Reported snags in a school's new fingerprint-scanning system have led to claims children have been going hungry at lunchtimes.
Alderman Peel High School in Wells-next-the-Sea implemented the new biometric system this week for students to pay for or authorise transactions such as getting a school dinner and purchasing new uniform items.
It requires pupils to have their fingerprints scanned and registered on a database.
But parents say pupils who have not had their prints scanned have been unable to get their meals at lunchtime, despite promises by the school that PIN codes would be given to students as an alternative. The school claims to not have had any problems and urged parents to speak to them.
Penny Richardson said her daughter had been unable to get a school lunch after the new system was implemented on Tuesday.
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She said the fact that children had been refused meals was "disgusting" and felt parents had been pressured into signing their children up for the new system.
She said: "They are doing it to the point where you don't have a choice to say no."
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Sadie said her daughter had also been unable to get lunch - even though she is entitled to free school meals and would not have had to pay.
She said: "I could just sign the letter, but my daughter might not want someone to take her print.
"Class registers are going to be done by thumb prints and even when you are buying uniform. Why does she need her thumb print taking if I am buying her a new pair of trousers?"
Vera said her niece and goddaughter had been refused meals and told on Wednesday that they would receive a PIN code, but that this had not yet materialised.
She added: "I think it's disgusting that the school can refuse the children a meal and [it] seems like they are forcing them into giving them their fingerprints to get food. Even the police need a good enough reason to need your fingerprint."
Principal Alastair Ogle said: "Alderman Peel High School uses a biometric system for cashless catering, as part of our commitment to offer greater parental choice and removing the need for students to carry cash.
"This technology has been tried and tested and used successfully by many schools for a number of years. The school is not aware of any issues with parents; the system has been excellent and no concerns have been reported to us.
"If parents have any concerns or questions, we are more than happy to help them and would ask them to contact the school directly."