Aylesford School operates a bio-metric system for cashless catering. The system enables students to pay in advance for their meals by crediting their account on cash machines situated in the dining areas. The system also enables parents and carers to credit their child’s account by using ParentPay, a system which allows accounts to be credited online or by using PayPoint centres located in local retailers displaying the Paypoint sign. Further information regarding ParentPay is available at www.parentpay.com.
The bio-metric system uses the fingerprint of the student and the software calculates a huge digital number from the image, and it is the number itself which is stored as a personal identification number. The actual fingerprint image is NOT stored. When a student uses the fingerprint scanner, the scanner recalculates the number and recognises the student. Such software is now being used worldwide as a means of providing additional personal security.
Students and parents can be reassured that this system has a very high level of security and that it is not possible to reconstruct the original fingerprint. The system does contain an option for the use of a PIN number instead of the bio-metric for those students whose parents specifically advise the school of their objection to the use of the bio-metrics. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has scrutinised the technology and has stated “I would encourage you to employ the system using finger print images. It seems to me that the use of bio-metric identifiers allows users to verify their identity without the risk of intrusions into privacy...I would certainly like to be able to point to it as an example of good practice”.
Can we use this opportunity to remind and encourage parents and carers to register for their entitlement for Free School Meals to ensure that students are able to access meals and the catering facilities. The new cashless system will automatically add students with the entitlement and not distinguish them from other students.