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Fingerprint scanner in school

ALSTONVILLE High School is set to trial a new roll-call system for senior students using a fingerprint scanner.

The move, which was abandoned after controversy at a Sydney high school last year, was explained in a letter sent to parents early last week.

“We trialled it with a couple of people last year just to make sure it worked,” Alstonville High principal David Silcock said.

“From now until the end of the year, those students in Year 10 who are returning to go into Year 11 next year will have the option of getting their fingerprint scanned.

“They don’t have to use it.”

Mr Silcock said the biometric technology would link a child’s thumb print to a digital code which would streamline administration processes for students with more flexible timetables in Years 11 and 12.

“We may have a day where we try it with the kids to make sure it works for them before the start of the year,” he said.

“We’re really motivated by the desire to give kids more options.

“It’s the kind of technology that a lot of companies are using.”

Currently, the school uses a swipe card system for pupils entering and leaving the school at different times of the day.

Mr Silcock said the thumb print scanner would be even more efficient because the identification cards were often forgotten, lost or damaged.

He said he had not yet had any negative feedback about the idea from parents or students.

“I really haven’t had anything said at all,” Mr Silcock said.

He also left the door open to discarding the idea if it was very unpopular.

“Considering that it’s optional, if we find out the kids don’t want to do it, or the parents don’t want it, then maybe we’ll sell it on,” he said.

The Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of NSW is in the process of reviewing its position on the fingerprint technology.

“The federation’s position in the past has been vehemently opposed,” a spokeswoman said.

“There were concerns over the safety issues and what it can be used for.

“We’re looking at the possibility of maybe it’s time to review our position.

“We’d like to get more information.”

Outside Alstonville High yesterday afternoon, parents were wary of the idea.

“It’s a bit over the top, isn’t it?” Stephen Campton-Jones, the father of a Year 8 student, said. “They’ve got to show their ID passes anyway.”

A mother of a Year 7 student, who did not wish to be named, said it wouldn’t bother her.

“It probably wouldn’t worry me, but it has connotations doesn’t it?” she said.

“Why can’t they stick to the card? The card works well.”

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