London SE1 community website

School’s U-turn on biometric library system

London SE1 website team

Charles Dickens Primary School has abandoned a controversial library system that used pupils' thumbprints to control the lending of books.

A campaign led by parent and local resident Amanda Penfold hit the headlines in March. Ms Penfold, who stood as a Green Party candidate in Chaucer ward in the local elections, handed out leaflets outside the Lant Street primary school.

But now the school's governors have voted to return to a barcode system.

In a statement, the school told us: "As there have been objections from a minority of parents to their children using a fingerprint to trigger a log in to the lending system in our new library, the headteacher asked governors to put this concern as a discussion item for their last meeting.

"Some governors felt that as long as parents had the right to choose, and already this right was being respected, then there was no need to change anything. However when it came to the vote the governors voted narrowly in favour of disabling the fingerprint system and using a barcode instead.

"The governing body wanted to be sure that it was supporting the children and the community of the school in the best possible way, and there is a view that if children are encouraged to do something in a safe context this may give them a false sense of security in a different situation."

Amanda Penfold describes the change in policy as "a significant victory". She adds that "parents in the same situation [need to] know that if they put pressure on their head teachers and govenors, they might be able to have these controversial systems removed from their schools".

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