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School Meals

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Cashless Catering 

The school uses a cashless catering system in the dining hall, which enables the school to provide a more efficient breakfast, break time and lunch service by reducing queuing times for students.

Parents and students will also benefit from the system as follows:

  • Parents will be able to pay for school meals in advance rather than on a daily basis thereby reducing the risk of loss or theft
  • Student accounts can be ‘topped’ up as and when required
  • Students entitled to free school meals will remain anonymous as they will purchase meals in the same way as other students
  • Cheque payments can be made to the school which will be loaded onto student accounts. This will reduce the need for students to carry cash if this is parental preference
  • Parents can access their child's account balance through Live Reporting and what has been purchased at the canteen over the past 2 weeks

 (Please note that on-line payments are not available at present but will hopefully soon be a payment option.)

In order to operate the cashless catering system student accounts are activated using a finger recognition system. When the student account is set up an image is taken of the finger which is subsequently encrypted into a 4 digit number. Please note that the actual fingerprint will not be stored. The data stored for each student will be held in accordance with Becta guidelines and will be kept in accordance with data protection regulations. All information will be destroyed when the student leaves the school.


 Digital Finger scans in Schools – Frequently Asked Questions

 Is my fingerprint stored in a database?

No, the image of an individual’s finger scan is never stored in a database or computer file. The image of the fingerprint is transferred from the fingerprint scanner into the computer via an encrypted data path. Feature extraction is then performed where unique points such as where ridges end or change direction are identified and their locations recorded. These form the feature template which is stored in the database for later comparison. Only the template is stored in the database. The number of unique features stored for each fingerprint can vary from ten to as many as forty depending on the complexity and quality of the fingerprint. It is impossible from this stored representation to recreate the original fingerprint image as virtually all the original information has been discarded during the template extraction phase.

Could the police use this stored information to identify and prosecute someone?

The amount of information retained is sufficient to identify an individual from a database of a few hundred or a few thousand using a special algorithm but is totally inadequate for forensic use and could not be used in a court of law to prove identity. The standards for forensic matching are very much higher and require the original fingerprint image.

If the government decided to create a national database of fingerprints is it technically possible for them to take this data from all the schools?

The system works exceptionally well when dealing with small groups of people from a few hundred to a few thousand. During enrolment a new template is created and compared against those already in the database. This is a controlled environment and only enough detail is stored to distinguish this group of people from each other. There is not enough information stored about the characteristics of the finger scan to scale this up to a national database.

When my child leaves the school how can I be certain their finger scan data is removed?

Only one copy of the template is stored in the database and when the individual is deleted from the system the template is completely obliterated.

How do I know the school will keep my child’s finger scan data safe and confidential?

All the finger scan data captured is the property of the school and is only stored on a computer within the school. The data is classified as personal information under the data protection act and therefore must be treated in exactly the same way as other personal data. Schools already have systems and procedures in place to protect the significant personal information they hold on their pupils. In this controlled environment the security and privacy of an individual can be assured.

How is the treatment of data affected by the Data Protection Act?

Digital finger scan data is personal data within the definition of the Data Protection Act, so the database is treated with the same care as any other personal data recorded by the school so as to conform to the data protection legislation.