Letter to Parents
Biometric Fingerprint System
I am excited to inform you that we will be implementing a new biometric fingerprint system at St John’s Middle School Academy to be used to purchase break and lunchtime items.
This is a technology that has been used successfully by thousands of schools and as a Leadership Team we are convinced that this is the right way forward for St John’s Middle School Academy.
We expect this system to improve the services we are able to offer students and staff significantly, with benefits including:
- Reduction in queuing time
- Reduction in administration time and cost dealing with lost or forgotten cards/passwords/PINs
- Pupils will not have to remember to bring a card
We would like to make it clear that our school will comply at all times with the Data Protection Act and with the guidance given by Becta and by the Information Commissioner’s Office regarding the use of biometric data.
Fingerprint images will not be stored by the system. Instead, a set of coordinates is translated into a string of numbers and encrypted. The encryption method used by the system is a high level, industry standard method. The data held could not be used to recreate a fingerprint image, nor could it be used in a forensic investigation.
Please now complete the questionnaire by visiting the Biometric fingerprint consent form under the 'forms' section of ParentMail.
We will also offer an opportunity to opt out for those pupils who, upon consideration, feel that they would rather not have their biometric data recorded. If you would like more information or the chance to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us.
A cashless system allows for parents to top up a ParentMail catering account online before entering
the canteen. This allows for quicker serving times and shorter queues. The ParentMail system
recognises each individual pupil, holds their individual account balances, and records money spent
and received. It records where money is spent, on what food, and on any specific date, at any time
How are pupils recognised by the system?
Each pupil will create a finger biometric. A scan of the finger is taken and a template created (a
string of encrypted numbers based off the finger scan). The rest of the finger image is discarded
which makes reverse engineering the fingerprint from the data stored impossible. Pupils will then be
able to use their finger biometric to identify on the system and authenticate actions.
How is a finger biometric used to obtain a school meal?
The Pupil simply places their finger on the Biometric reader at the point of sale. A display will show
the server the pupil’s name and current account 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 account balance will show on the display.
How is money entered into the system?
(a) Online payments allow a parent / guardian to ‘log-on’ to the ParentMail online web portal
using a secure username & password, and ‘top-up’ their child’s account using debit and credit
(b) Payments can also be made through the Finance Office which will also be through the
ParentMail online top up facility. Please call the finance Office on 01527 832376 if you require
How does a pupil check what their current balance is?
- (a) The ParentMail online web portal is used to make payments and can also be used to check the current balance of a catering account.
- The customer display at the point of sale will also show the new account balance when the food service is finished.