Feeds

School fingerprinters say they don't grab teaching cash

Put their hands up over 80/20 rule

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Firms supplying fingerprint scanners to UK schools have put the national procurement authority in the right over whether their biometric components are being bought using funding set aside for teaching software.

Parents campaigning against their children's fingerprints being taken have been worried that teaching funds are being used for the purchase of the equipment that takes their dabs.

BECTA (The British Educational and Communications Technology Agency) told The Register last week that e-Learning credits - central government funding intended to help schools buy teaching software - could be used to buy fingerprinting systems under an allowance in the rules.

For every £1,000 a school spends on teaching software using e-Learning credits, an 80/20 rule allows them to spend £200 on associated odds and ends. Schools are allowed to buy software to manage their libraries using e-Learning credits, so they could use the 80/20 rule to buy the biometric scanners that go with them, BECTA educational content executive director Dave Hassell said.

But he did not have a tally of what specific items had been sold: "The Department [for Education and Skills] has a scheme for auditing expenditure," he said. The DfES funds the e-Learning credit programme.

Two key suppliers of school library systems have insisted they have not supplied fingerprint equipment via e-Learning credits because they use the 80/20 rule to supply other associated components.

Micro Librarian Systems and Softlink Europe have between them supplied fingerprint scanners to over 5,000 schools in Britain. Yet these biometric components are a gimmicky sideline to their core technology, which is the sale of computer systems that tie the management of library stock into the national curriculum - making books interesting to kids.

Micro Librarian Systems managing director Andy O'Brien said: "Yes, they have an 80/20 rule. But our [basic] hardware already takes up that 20 per cent. The biometrics are never included. It's always in an optional module."

Junior Librarian, the MLS system, comes with a bar code reader to scan books, at £95, and is normally sold with a pack of 6,000 bar codes to stick on the books, at £20 per 1,000 - which brings the basic non-educational hardware up close to the limit for a system that's sold at around £1,000.

Paul Dhesi, sales and marketing director of Softlink Europe, which supplies the Alice library system, said: "Eighty per cent is taken by the software and the rest is taken up largely by the scanner and labels they need to get the library up and running."

The fingerprint modules of the library systems are used in place of the swipe cards or names that pupils would normally use to take out library books and are said by suppliers to be popular with pupils. Campaigners against the use of such technology say it gets them used to casually handing over their biometrics for trivial purposes and consumes the trust that characterises normal human society.

MLS and Softlink are the only two of about 1,000 accredited e-Learning suppliers The Register knows to supply fingerprinting systems.

BECTA said it did not know how many more there were on the books. Other leading suppliers of school technology with e-Learning accreditations resell the biometric components of other firms. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?