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Teachers break silence on fingerprinting children

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The National Union of Teachers has said that schools should not fingerprint children without the consent of parents.

But UK teaching unions are being slow to formulate firmer policies on the issue because, it appears, teachers have not complained to their unions about the fingerprinting schemes that, according to parents' campaign group leavethemkidsalone.com, has already fingerprinted 700,000 primary school children in 3,500 schools without seeking parental consent.

A spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers said today: "Fingerprinting has to be done in consultation with parents and teachers and not imposed."

"By consultation, we are talking about proper consultation, giving parents time to respond, not installing the machines and then asking parents," she said.

Schools like Porth County Comprehensive in South Wales have fingerprinted children within days of telling parents in take-home letters about the plans.

David Clouter, spokesman for Leavethemkidsalone, said in a statement today: "Parents should be informed and asked for prior written consent [for fingerprinting], as is required for a whole range of far less intrusive school activities."

"Parents should also be given clear assurances on exactly who will have access to the data on these systems and under precisely what circumstances," he added.

A spokesman for Britain's largest teaching union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said its policy people were deciding what to do about school fingerprinting. Neither unions had the activities reported to them by concerned members.

Clouter said it was a sign of the way the fingerprinting of school children was being managed: "Sliding it under people's noses and then presenting it as a fait accompli."®

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