To try and stop students losing or being relieved of their lunch money, some schools offered the option of swipe cards. Now, it's being taken a step further -- through the use of biometric technology.
Nova Hreod in Moredon and Isambard in North Swindon are introducing a new system on July 16, which will involve hundreds of students having their fingerprints taken in order to pay for school meals.
Students will register their biometric data a week before the system is put in place. According to reports, the schools are using the technology to try and make transactions and record-keeping "more efficient".
The minister for schools, Nick Gibb, called the idea of implementing biometrics a "sensitive issue", and believes that parents should have the right to opt-out of the scheme if they wish.
However, those using the system have stated the fingerprint images are turned into a mathematical algorithm so the information cannot be passed to third-parties, and once the student leaves the data is deleted.
The change in payment methods is being introduced so that when a student pays for a meal, they place their finger on a scanner which brings up their name, class and the balance of their account. If a student doesn't want to use the system, they do have the option of using an "alternative method", such as a swipe card.
The firm who is installing the scanner equipment says the technology prevents "many of the problems associated with the use of cash within the school, through loss, theft, or bullying".
From September 2013, parents of students under 18 will be given the power to veto a school's request for a child's biometric data -- a move that the schools minister hopes will put privacy concerns to rest.
"We want schools to be in no doubt of their responsibilities when it comes to young people's personal data. I have heard from many angry parents after they have learned that their children's personal data was being used by schools without their knowledge.
The new legislation gives the power back to parents, as it requires parental consent before the information can be collected."