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General Chat Thread, DfE/PFA 2012: "Parents given power of veto on schools’ use of biometric information" in General; I understand the law here and accept it, but at the same time I hope the government is willing to ...
  1. #16

    localzuk's Avatar
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    I understand the law here and accept it, but at the same time I hope the government is willing to accept a drop in the number of children having school meals due to increased time queuing to be served - as schools won't have the money to install more tills to process the kids going through, whilst also complying with the healthy schools initiative and related things. The knock on effect of this is not as simple as just issuing a card to kids - it has a significant knock on effect that I have seen first hand when switching from fingerprinting (due to it simply not working well with the kids fingers in our school) to a card based system.

    However, at the same time, when we implemented it at that school, we sent out a letter to all parents outlining the system, how it worked, and asked for anyone who didn't like it to contact us and alternative provision would be put in place for their child. We had a total of 2 parents contact us.

    We also updated the data checking sheet to include a section for accepting the use of biometric data - no-one said no there either for new students.

    This law is a reaction to a problem that doesn't exist.

  2. #17

    glennda's Avatar
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    I agree with @localzuk the only reason my previous school had the time and funding to be able to increase the quality/goodness of food was by implementing cashless catering - it means all the reports are done automatically and saves time/money which can be better spent on other things.

    The government needs to stop wasting money on pointless laws and actually look at the positives these things bring rather then the negatives... or is it just me that thinks this?

  3. #18

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Alternative solutions can still also be time saving technologies such as cards containing smart chips / RFID chips ... which have been around for some time. The down side is that the initial cost of these cards have to be carried by the school and there is the risk that families of children who lose their card will not pay for replacements.

    The refusal to use biometric data has been round for some time and is already dealt with quite well by some schools.

  4. #19

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Alternative solutions can still also be time saving technologies such as cards containing smart chips / RFID chips ... which have been around for some time. The down side is that the initial cost of these cards have to be carried by the school and there is the risk that families of children who lose their card will not pay for replacements.

    The refusal to use biometric data has been round for some time and is already dealt with quite well by some schools.
    The alternatives are not actually effective. They result in a *lot* of hassle at tills when kids have lost, broken or forgotten their cards. I designed and maintain a cashless system in one school, and support one in this school - and the outcome is the same at both. Cards are a pain and waste a significant amount of time.

    So the end result, as I said, is longer queuing time, and in my experience this has a direct relationship with the number of kids skipping lunch altogether as they'd rather be out playing than queuing.

  5. #20

    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Alternative solutions can still also be time saving technologies such as cards containing smart chips / RFID chips ... which have been around for some time. The down side is that the initial cost of these cards have to be carried by the school and there is the risk that families of children who lose their card will not pay for replacements.

    The refusal to use biometric data has been round for some time and is already dealt with quite well by some schools.
    yes but as you mention they lose cards - my previous school used cards and it was terrible (although as it was pfi the catering system wasn't linked to sims for images which helps). As i previously mentioned the actual refusal rate was 1 in 533 (3 children in 1600). So on those odds the government is padering to such a small minority (roughly 5000 from over 3 million)

    If they start doing that they may as well take the BNP seriously....
    Last edited by glennda; 15th May 2012 at 10:30 PM.

  6. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    The alternatives are not actually effective. They result in a *lot* of hassle at tills when kids have lost, broken or forgotten their cards. I designed and maintain a cashless system in one school, and support one in this school - and the outcome is the same at both. Cards are a pain and waste a significant amount of time.

    So the end result, as I said, is longer queuing time, and in my experience this has a direct relationship with the number of kids skipping lunch altogether as they'd rather be out playing than queuing.
    And I've worked in a school with card-based cashless catering which was as quick as biometric offerings, and seen a number of schools who use a mixed approach with no difference. Stopping the loss of cards and getting a good response from parents and children around this is down to behaviour modification and not the fault of the chosen technology. It is worth mentioning because you have to deal with it, but it should not be a reason to ignore it as an option (which some other schools might do).

    @glennda There are many reasons why people refuse to use biometric systems, some for personal reasons, some medical and some due to faith. To say that we are pandering to the requirements of these ... well that is not really fair ... you might only have 2 vegetarians in the school ... you would still support them in their choice nd the choice of their family.

  7. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    I do have queries about social networking sites which include facial recognition ... because the guidance which is under consultation does make it clear that although the school itself might not be running the technology / system locally but if they provide a solution or insist a child uses a solution which holds biometric information then it is covered under the act.
    Not entirely sure what the query is but from Hansard (Lords): I know that my noble friend is concerned that these provisions should not apply when pupils access commercial websites or software systems that use face recognition to control access. I can give reassurance to my noble friend that the provisions in Clause 26 cover only the processing of biometric information that is carried out by, or on behalf of, the school or college.

  8. #23

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    Not entirely sure what the query is but from Hansard (Lords): I know that my noble friend is concerned that these provisions should not apply when pupils access commercial websites or software systems that use face recognition to control access. I can give reassurance to my noble friend that the provisions in Clause 26 cover only the processing of biometric information that is carried out by, or on behalf of, the school or college.
    And this is where the law gets really murky ... if you are asking a child to use a system which contains facial recognition as part of the functionality (i.e. not to control access) then is it being done on behalf of the school? The answer does not cover this scenario yet it is a real life situation ... and so we get into instructing children to possibly turn off this feature (which they are bound to follow ... of course) ...

    If another child in the school uploads a picture containing them and classmates ... and the system automagically suggests the names of students to be tagged against it? This is processing data based on facial recognition ... would this be something that has to be dealt with under the act?

    If you instruct a child to use something (sports equipment, VLE, etc) and some harm happens as a result then there is a certain amount of liability which the school has to take (get full legal advice for a fuller covering of this ... the word 'murky' really jumps out here) ... and does this apply to the act as well?

  9. #24

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    This law is a reaction to a problem that doesn't exist.
    Depends on how you perceive the law - it's not saying biometrics in schools is unconditionally evil, the "problem" is consent, failures to inform and obtain consent, mixed in with human rights, child rights and so on.

    Quoting numbers about how many folk don't give consent is only part of it, what you can't tell me is how many people gave consent but would have been seriously put out if you hadn't asked for consent. Sprogette is my (Primary age) child and although the stream of consent forms is a pain at times and I've yet to say no, I definitely do want to see and sign some of them.

  10. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    And this is where the law gets really murky ... if you are asking a child to use a system which contains facial recognition as part of the functionality (i.e. not to control access) then is it being done on behalf of the school?
    "On behalf of the school" means speaking or acting for the school and I think that would include teacher instructing kid to use a biometric wotsit in any scenario.

    If another child in the school uploads a picture containing them and classmates ... and the system automagically suggests the names of students to be tagged against it? This is processing data based on facial recognition ... would this be something that has to be dealt with under the act?
    If kid does it of their own volition then probably not.

  11. #26

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    Ugh.. didn't realise that is the last FAQ in the draft guidance:

    Is parental notification or consent required where a child uses or accesses standard commercial sites or software which use face recognition technology?
    The provisions in the Act only cover the processing of biometric data by or on behalf of the school or college. If a school or college wishes to use such software for school work then the requirement to notify parents and to obtain parental consent will apply. However, if a pupil is using this software for their own personal purposes then the provisions do not apply, even if the software is accessed using school or college equipment.


    Murkiness: There's a difference between what I thought/said and what this says e.g. if teacher says go and do some project on your class trip without specifying precisely how then, the pupil could on their own initiative decide to upload that class photo somewhere that does biometrics, and they'd be doing that for school purposes. You want to encourage rather than take away pupil initiative surely, so I think 'own volition" (or not) has got to be the intent and answer here.

  12. #27

    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    Ugh.. didn't realise that is the last FAQ in the draft guidance:

    Is parental notification or consent required where a child uses or accesses standard commercial sites or software which use face recognition technology?
    The provisions in the Act only cover the processing of biometric data by or on behalf of the school or college. If a school or college wishes to use such software for school work then the requirement to notify parents and to obtain parental consent will apply. However, if a pupil is using this software for their own personal purposes then the provisions do not apply, even if the software is accessed using school or college equipment.


    Murkiness: There's a difference between what I thought/said and what this says e.g. if teacher says go and do some project on your class trip without specifying precisely how then, the pupil could on their own initiative decide to upload that class photo somewhere that does biometrics, and they'd be doing that for school purposes. You want to encourage rather than take away pupil initiative surely, so I think 'own volition" (or not) has got to be the intent and answer here.

    That clause i presume is to cover items such as laptops a student may bring in under BYOD scheme which has a biometric login - they may use it at school but the school havn't forced it apon them.

    Personally rather then getting consent the easier method is saying - We will do this unless you object as otherwise half the parents don't bother to reply and you are up the creek without a paddle!

    @Grumbledock
    @glennda There are many reasons why people refuse to use biometric systems, some for personal reasons, some medical and some due to faith. To say that we are pandering to the requirements of these ... well that is not really fair ... you might only have 2 vegetarians in the school ... you would still support them in their choice nd the choice of their family.
    i'm not sure how a medical reason could stop somebody using a biometric scanner - unless they are the boy who's skin fell off! Faith is a different story but some people believe in all sorts we don't always pander to those people.

  13. #28

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Around 7 - 11% of the population of the UK are vegetarian. 3 objections in 1600 kids is 0.19%. That is a massive difference, one is accepting a significant percentage of the population wants something, the other is pandering to an extreme.

    Should the government also bring in laws allowing children to be withdrawn from science lessons because a tiny percentage of the population thinks creationism is right and evolution is wrong? Or out of geography lessons because there are a few flat earthers around still?

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Yep ... And I've come across schools where it is about 15% of children are vegetarian, and schools where none are. The example was used to show that there are situations where we deal with a minority who are perfectly entitled to make a choice. I could have said vegan (this report, The vegan diet for infants and children - The Vegan Society, on the Vegan Society site say that research in 2000 shows that there are approx 0.5% of children between 6-17 who are vegans), but hey ... Let's argue about a minor point in stats instead of the idea that children should not have choice ... Just because it makes life difficult for a few people.

    I'm off to read the Daily Fail to find out what my views should be.

    On a serious note ... Yes, it is about manageable compromise, but you have to be open enough to accept that there are things that where a decision has been made under law and you now have to deal with it. If you don't like it the feel free to go to your MP or start an ePetition to get it discussed again. Add your response to consultation to make sure that the difficulties it creates are understood by both DfE and suppliers.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Yep ... And I've come across schools where it is about 15% of children are vegetarian, and schools where none are. The example was used to show that there are situations where we deal with a minority who are perfectly entitled to make a choice. I could have said vegan (this report, The vegan diet for infants and children - The Vegan Society, on the Vegan Society site say that research in 2000 shows that there are approx 0.5% of children between 6-17 who are vegans), but hey ... Let's argue about a minor point in stats instead of the idea that children should not have choice ... Just because it makes life difficult for a few people.
    I'm off to read the Daily Fail to find out what my views should be.

    On a serious note ... Yes, it is about manageable compromise, but you have to be open enough to accept that there are things that where a decision has been made under law and you now have to deal with it. If you don't like it the feel free to go to your MP or start an ePetition to get it discussed again. Add your response to consultation to make sure that the difficulties it creates are understood by both DfE and suppliers.
    Running a consultation now is much like closing the gate after the horse has bolted. As far as I remember, no actual consultation was run before it was implemented by a reactionary government listening to a very small, but very loud, minority.

    Sometimes, children should not have a choice. Why should they? Do parents get to choose what MIS system we use? No. Why do they get to choose what system we use for cashless catering?

    And saying it makes life difficult for a few people is a massively trollish comment - the difficulties it causes I have highlighted above, including children not eating any lunch at all because they have to queue for longer. People in the school don't care if it means having to spend 1 minute or 2 minutes per child at the till - they get paid still, but the effect for the kids is significant, and it can mean more people need employing to operate more tills, or to create new cards etc... When that money can and should be used elsewhere.

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