Censorship, naughty teens, biometrics and butt-plugs

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Letters This one just isn't going away. To recap, for those who did not fingerprint themselves into earlier lessons: The information Comissioner's Office rules that schools can fingerprint pupils without parental consent. You are all outraged.

Next, a headteacher explains that he's quite happy and so are the parents. Then, the NUT joins the dissenters.

Your thoughts, diverse as they often are, follow:

"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.""

Isn't that the standard MO of schools? From my experience that's the normal way they introduce anything they think will be contentious.

Jonathan Fitt

I live in Dublin and my son has just started at 'The Institute of Education', a school specialising in the Leaving Certificate (the Irish equivalent to A-levels).

He has to use a combination of a palm print and a pin each morning as he enters the school, although attendance is taken in each class as well. The second slide in the slideshow on their front page http://www.ioe.ie/ actually shows a palm scanner in the entrance hall.

I reckon the palm print is to prevent kids logging each other in. Oh, and the 'you're being watched'- vibe it gives him freaks him out, which I regard as something of a good thing given how prone teenage boys are to arsing off.


Two people calling out of 1400 sound smore like the ratio of kids who actually give school notes to their parents.

When my son got a new bag last year, I tipped out the old one before throwing it away.

There were 3 years of school notices in the bottom.

I suggest that 2 out of 1400 is a pretty good return for something the kids didn't really care about (e.g compared with a permission slip to goto Thorpe Park for the day in the last week of term).


1 hammer + 1 fingerprint scanner == expensive pile of scrap.

I wish I was still at school, I'd cause so much trouble now days.

Matt D.

I work in a school as the Network Manager. I was surprised to read about a system that we had taken a look at but had to turn down due to the cost. Eventually we settled a system which requires teacher interaction but that was purely on cost and against my technical advice.

But to quote Terri Dowty, a former teacher and director of Action on Rights for Children "When I was teaching, attendance-taking was an important part of the day. You would call the name, look up, and make eye contact - notice them for a second. It was an important human part of the day."

Well unfortunately she isn't teaching anymore and most teachers hate calling out a register because of the short attention span of the kiddies. So therefore a quick and effective way is needed to register the kid (especially if you want to do this in every lesson).

After a few months of research I felt that the only way we could be 100% sure that students were in lessons (and other students that shouldn't were not) was by using fingerprinting.

Yes it is Big Brother and Orwellian but I'd rather have these kids safe in school rather than wandering the streets either causing or getting into trouble. Anyone who thinks the fingerprint can be stolen and used for police matters is mistaken and seriously needs to do some research. (especially the LTKA site )


Oh how misguided can this headmaster be?

This fingerprinting system will not show the correlation between attendance and performance. It will show the correlation between being at the class room door and attendance.

There is nothing to stop the pupil scanning their fingerprint and the leaving to go to the nearest watering hole, where naturally, he will meet the well versed folks from el-Reg, learn all about technology and get himself an A* in IT.


And an observation from someone who clearly remembers his school days with some clarity:

For heaven's sake, have the developers never watched Star Trek? - there must be at least 3 episodes where A.N. crew member or A.N. Nefarious Individual deliberately leaves their com badge so that the ship's computer thinks that they are somewhere where they aren't. Avoid the scanner on the way in and get scanned on the way out so that it appears that you are still in the room. One alibi for skipping the rest of the day's lessons set up... Unless the system also features those scary little spider robots out of Minority Report (which I very much doubt), it seems doomed to subversion.


Theres somthing slightly sinister about this phrase:

"All the parents received a letter at the beginning of term asking them to contact us if they had any concerns. We had a couple of parents call...when we explained the procedure and the reasons why they were happy with that," said Bowden.

Did the parents get a choice of whether they were happy or not, or were they just sat down with the men in black and told they were happy!? time to start digging that 1984 proof bunker me thinks!

cheers Edd

So "It had cost the school £25,000." had it?

I wonder how long before the equipment needs replacing? I wonder if the supplier is shipping the prototypes on the cheap to establish a market. (That *is* the usual practice, isn't it?)

Do we have comparison costs of taking registers manually? At my schools, taking the register probably served as a useful "winding down" period, so I would guess that the time *lost* by taking the register manually was, er, nil.

Sadly, of course, the cost will be amortised by using the fingerprint database elsewhere and parents won't be asked about *that* because they've "already given their consent". Within five years, the police will have a fingerprint database of everyone between the ages of 10 and 20, with that upper limit rolling up year by year. And if the fingerprint technology proves unreliable, that's just a great opportunity to "back it up with" DNA technology instead.

It might be nice to live in a society where rapists necessarily leave proof of identity within the victim, but I think this ought to be a conscious decision rather than something that just ends up that way.


And yet the police are not permitted to interview a minor without a responsible adult being present... and cannot take fingerprints without arresting a suspect. If they did, I suppose they themselves would be in legal trouble.

Why then can parents of the children fingerprinted not ask the police to investigate this headteacher? He is apparently responsible for breaking the law. The approval of a government department (still less that of a commercial vendor) and the fact that parents were informed are both completely immaterial.

If I inform you that I am going to hit you over the head with a length og lead pipe, then do so, it is still a crime.


"the parents were perfectly happy"

I guess the same could have been said in 1936, when the Nazi parti came to power in prewar Germany. People were quite happy at that time also - they had been promised work and food, and they were going to get it. The fact that Hitler was going to invade, overrun and occupy most of Western Europe and some of Africa in the process was, um, collateral damage ?

Really I don't know what is worse : that a school director deems fingerprinting to be acceptable since nobody complains, or that his excuse is that some bureuacracy has approved it, so he didn't have to ask. Schooling has really hit rock bottom in the USA, and has apparently started to dig. It is not only Orwell that must be laughing his skull off, but much lesser films like that awful Fortress are literally on the verge of becoming prophetic.

All because of Political Correctness and basic ignorance. Even in schools. Now THAT is a scary thought !


Will fingerprints be needed to open the restroom doors, so that if a child has to leave the room the staff knows where they ACTUALLY are in case of an emergency? (What about the stalls?)

...Ooooh! Ooooooh! And can they get pressure-sensitive flooring in the halls, so they can know if the student is actually going to the restroom by the most direct path and not dawdling anyplace along the way?

And on the subject of fingerprinting; do all of the custodial, teaching ,and administrative staff (up to and includiong the Headmaster) have their fingerprints on file at the local police station? (It's for the safety of the children, after all...!)

And, you know... I'm not even going to start on the sort of unprincipled cynicism that would have children fingerprinting themselves for the convenience of the authorities on the "Vericool" system... It's just too depressing...


Click othrough to page two, and we'll entertain you with more identity revealing pranks, allegedly tasteless videos from the staffroom at the BBC and, obviously, buttplugs.

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