PUPILS at a High Wycombe secondary are using their thumb-print to buy lunch – to the concern of privacy campaigners.

Cressex Community School uses technology that reads a pupils’ thumb and links it to their lunch money account.

The school says this speeds up the process and removes the stigma of poorer pupils who do not pay for their lunch.

But Anita Coles, policy officer at human rights group Liberty, said: “When we were kids, finger-printing was for identifying criminal suspects in custody – not for the school lunch queue.

“Before schools rush to embrace biometric technology they should think about what this teaches our children about the value of their dignity and privacy.”

Yet David Hood, head at the Holmers Lane school, said: “It is not finger-printing, it is called biometric registration.

“We don’t have records of pupils’ finger-prints, it allows us to recognise them by their thumb print.”

He said the technology recognises six points on the child’s thumb.

He said: “It is a standard procedure, it is used in school canteens across the country.”

Parents were asked for permission beforehand and only one opted out, he said.

Mr Hood said: The reason is so they don’t carry lots of money throughout the week.

“Also, we have a lot of youngsters on free school meals. Therefore there is no separation in pupils’ minds because they don’t know how other pupils paid for their lunch.”

He added: “It is the most efficient way to manage the system.”

Buckinghamshire County Council, the local education authority, said it did not have a record of how many schools used the technology.

The issue of finger-printing in schools has led to concern elsewhere in the U.K.

This led to the Government to pledge last week: “We will outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.”

What do you think? Leave your comments below.