London SE1 website team

Parents' concern over school library thumbprints

Parents at Charles Dickens Primary School have expressed concern over a new library lending system that uses biometric data from pupils.

The leaflet handed out last week

Amanda Penfold, whose daughter attends the Lant Street school, said: "I do not want my child's thumb print to be on any database, and am horrified that Ms Owens [the headteacher] thinks this is acceptable. The indoctrination of school children into the need for such personal identification measures has been used in America for some time, and, I believe, is an attempt to make acceptable the idea of compulsory personal identification of all adults and children for government monitoring purposes."

Ms Penfold, who has lived on the Rockingham Estate for more than two decades, was last week joined at the school by Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones to hand out leaflets to parents.

In a statement, headteacher Elizabeth Owens – who was last year named teacher of the year – told us: "We had professional advice over the best available computer software, and the chosen, very popular, system involves the use of thumb-printing for identification. The actual thumb-print image is not stored and the data cannot be used for any other purpose.

"This week we informed parents of the lending system and thereby gave them the opportunity to comment on any issues they might have with this. We did not expect any problems, but those who have expressed dislike for the idea of thumb-printing can ask for their child to be identified by a barcode system instead."

The school's new library opened last November.

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