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Fingerprint scanners ‘invasive’

Monday, 24th March, 2014

By Darrin Manuel

Barry O’Farrell has backed the controversial move of using fingerprint scanners to track school children, but the Barrier Teachers Association says the measure goes too far.

The NSW Premier said schools were within their rights to fingerprint children.

Several public schools are already using hi-tech scanners to record when students enter and leave schools across the state.

“I think that’s a good thing because it reflects our policy of ‘local schools, local decisions’ (LSLD), which enables schools to make decisions that meet the needs of their communities,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters.

Asked whether he had any privacy concerns, the premier said the decision to use the technology was ultimately a matter for individual schools.

“If school communities want to make decisions, whether about the opening hours of schools or whether about these sorts of issues, I’m happy to back them,” Mr O’Farrell said.

But Barrier Teachers Association president Maureen Clark said the invasive process would be an unwelcome burden on students and teachers.

“This is taking Local Schools Local Decisions a bit too far. Firstly, who fingerprints the kids, and when? And how often?” asked Ms Clark.

“In high schools, some students may try to sneak off between classes but they are soon picked up by the roll marking procedures in place in schools. Known offenders have to check in regularly with executive staff.

“It would be an imposition for teachers and for the majority of our students who do the right thing. Scanners are used in some schools to check the arrival of students but this doesn’t help truanting.”

Ms Clark said the installation of scanners would increase teacher workload, and possibly increase pressure on school budgets.

“For it to work, every classroom would require a scanner and I can’t imagine that our cash-strapped government will be wheeling them out any time soon.

“Of course, under LSLD, this purchase would no doubt be expected to be borne by the school, along with a very long list of other, more urgent needs.”-BDT/AAP

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