Here is a copy of Mr Richardson’s letter to all parents and carers on Friday 16th March 2012. Please scroll down for a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on Biometrics and how the information is used.

[framed_box bgColor=”#FFFBD4″ textColor=”#050505″ rounded=”true”]Dear Parent or Carer


Heworth Grange School is introducing a cashless catering system to coincide with the opening of the brand new dining facilities. The benefits of such a system are many and include the following:[divider_padding] * Convenient way of paying for school meals. No more looking for change every morning.
* Discourages the misuse of school dinner money through spending in shops outside of the school grounds.
* Alleviates many of the associated problems with the use of cash in schools. i.e.: Loss, theft and bullying.
* Specific food allergy ingredients can be barred automatically.
* Healthy eating is encouraged.
* Queuing times are reduced through increased speed of service.
* Automatic free meal allocation with the pupil remaining anonymous.
* Detailed reports to analyse all aspects of the use of the system.
* Having control of pupil accounts by pupils using the I.M.P.A.C.T. System teaches important life skills.
* A more efficient delivery of service helps the caterer to provide wholesome, healthy and enjoyable school meals at a low cost.[divider_padding] At the heart of the cashless system there is a computer controlled by I.M.P.A.C.T. – Software. This allows the system to recognise each individual pupil, hold individual cash balances, record cash spent and cash received record where money is spent, on what food, on any specific date and time of day.
Each pupil will have their fingerprint registered which will then be translated to an Alpha Numeric number, the image is then discarded, when used this will then enter them into the system program and identify them by a number.
The Pupil simply places their finger on a scanner at the point of sale; a display will show the server the pupil’s name, class and current cash balance held within the system. The selected food items will be entered into the system from an itemised keyboard while the amount spent and the new cash balance will show on the display.
We intend for the system to go live on Wednesday 18 April 2012. To facilitate this the company introducing the system on our behalf, Impact Cashless Catering Systems, will be in school on 22, 23 and 29 March 2012 to take samples of the students’ fingerprints.
We need your consent to do this and would therefore ask you to read the enclosed leaflet and return the permission slip at the bottom to your child’s form tutor by Wednesday 21 March 2012.
For students whose parents do not wish to grant such permission a four digit code will be issued which the student will enter at the till point. A mixed system of this kind however will inevitably be slower and less easy to manage and therefore I would urge you to consider the benefits as described and allow your child the engage with this safe new technology.
Regardless of your child’s current lunch time arrangements, it is important that ALL students register because it is our intention that all students will remain on site for lunch from June 2012.
Further information is available on the school website at
Kind regards

Chris Richardson


Biometrics FAQ

[accordions initialTab=”0″] [accordion title=”Is my fingerprint stored in a database? “] No, the image of an individual’s fingerscan 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.[/accordion] [accordion title=”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.[/accordion] [accordion title=”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 fingerscan to scale this up to a national database.[/accordion] [accordion title=”When my child leaves the school how can I be certain their fingerscan 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.[/accordion] [accordion title=”How do I know the school will keep my child’s fingerscan data safe and confidential?”] All the fingerscan data captured is the property of the school and is only stored on a computer within the school. Biometric 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.[/accordion] [accordion title=”How is the treatment of this data affected by the Data Protection Act ?”] Biometric data is personal data within the definition of the Data Protection Act, so the BioStore 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.[/accordion] [/accordions]