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Introduction

From September 2017 we will be implementing a new student recognition system using biometrics at Ormskirk School.  This will allow us to greatly improve the efficiency of our cashless catering and library systems. There is also the further potential to incorporate biometric recognition into other systems such as print and copy cost control, access control and registration systems. We expect that this system will improve the services we are able to offer students and staff significantly, with benefits including:

  • Improved security when processing financial transactions in the school
  • Removal of cost to parents and administration time of lost or forgotten cards
  • Reduction in opportunities for pupils using each other’s or lost/stolen cards
  • Children will not have to remember to bring a card
  • Reduction in queuing time

This is a technology that is already used successfully by thousands of schools and as a leadership team we are convinced that this is the right way forward for Ormskirk School.

We would like to make it clear that Ormskirk School will comply at all times with the Data Protection Act and with the provisions of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (which came into force in September 2013) regarding the use of biometric data. In order for your child to use the biometric system, one parent or carer will need to consent in writing by email, or signing and returning the form below.

We will offer an alternative form of identification to those pupils who, upon consideration, would prefer to opt out of biometric identification.

Consent via email:

Please click the link below and add the following details to the email before sending

  • Your full name
  • Full names and progress groups of your children in school

Consent via form:

Please download the form via the link below. If you require a hard copy of the form please ask your child to collect one from reception.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Background to the use of biometrics in school

Biometric information is information about someone’s physical or behavioural characteristics that can be used to identify them. There are many possible biometrics, including for example, a digital photograph, fingerprint, or hand shapes.  As part of our identity management systems, we will record a biometric measurement taken from a finger, but not a fingerprint image. The information is stored in a highly secure database and will only be used by the school to confirm who is using a range of services.  In future we may use other biometric services where appropriate.

Our chosen solution allows us to use a secure database holding biometric data for use with a range of services. This means we will store the least amount of data possible.  This reduces the risk of loss of data.

The data that is held cannot be used by any other agency for any other purpose.

The school will not use the biometric information for any purpose other than that stated above. The school will store the biometric information collected securely in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. The school will not share this information with anyone else and will not unlawfully disclose it to any other person.

Our biometric system requires each pupil to register only once, usually by placing a finger on a fingerprint scanner, although other identification methods are available. 

Current Legislation – The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

This legislation requires schools to:

  • Inform parents about the use of the biometric systems in the school and explain what applications use biometrics.
  • Receive written permission from one parent if the school is to process biometric information for their child.
  • Allow children to choose an alternative way of being identified if they wish.

Are images of individual fingerprints recorded?

We do not store images of fingerprints on our system, and never will.  Only mathematical representations of certain points of a finger image are recorded, typically between ten and sixty depending on the characteristics of the finger.  This mathematical data is encrypted and is called a template.  The data is extremely secure in its encrypted form, and even if it were not encrypted it would be impossible to recreate the original fingerprint image from the stored data. 

Is it possible to recreate a fingerprint from the data stored?

No, the system only stores a short string of encrypted numbers, too little data for the original print to be reconstructed. 

How secure is the stored data?  What would happen if somebody stole it?

The database is protected by a licence key, meaning that the database and any backup of its contents can only be accessed on licensed hardware.  The hardware is stored in the school’s own secure facility, so that the encrypted data is only available to the registered licensee.  Even if a school’s security were to be compromised and a backup of the database stolen, the encrypted data would still be unreadable, even by another school. 

If I lose my bank card then it can be replaced, but I can’t replace my finger.  If a template is stolen, have I lost my identity forever?

The simple answer is no.  The fingerprint template stored in the database is merely a string of encrypted numbers.  If this string of numbers were to be removed from the database, it would be useless, because it cannot be recognised as a fingerprint.  A fingerprint scanner checks for a real finger – it does not recognise a string of numbers. 

Could the police or a court of law use the fingerprints stored in the database?

We do not store fingerprint images.  The recorded templates are comprised of a set of numbers which represent each person.  This set of numbers will be unique within populations of hundreds, or a few thousands, of people.  However, in a wider population the system is not accurate enough for the templates to be usable for forensic matching with any degree of certainty.  A court of law would not be able to use this information as evidence. 

What happens about twins, or someone who has hurt their finger?

Even identical twins have different fingerprints, and will not be mistaken for each other.  In very rare cases there are people who are born without fingerprints.  Occasionally someone’s fingerprints may deteriorate because of exposure to some chemical products, and sometimes temperature changes can cause reduction in fingerprint quality.  However, a cut finger would not cause any problem, unless it resulted in major disfigurement. 

Is there any alternative for pupils who are unable to provide biometric data for some reason, such as a disability?

Alternative identification methods, such as contactless smart cards are always available in our systems.  Pupils unable to provide biometric data can opt to use one of these methods, as can any pupil who prefers not to use biometrics. 

If I object to my child being fingerprinted, what will happen?

The school will issue any pupil who wishes to opt out of the biometric system with an alternative method of identification, for example, contactless smartcards, PIN numbers, passwords or name and photo lookup.

What happens when my child leaves Ormskirk School?

When a pupil or staff member leaves the school, or if for some other reason ceases to use the biometric system, their biometric data will be permanently deleted by Ormskirk School.