FINGERPRINTING of pupils is a simple way of solving canteen queues and is destroyed when pupils leave, parents have been assured.

Educators and unionists in East Lancashire spoke out after figures showed more than 850,000 children were fingerprinted nationwide last year.

Pressure group Big Brother Watch estimated a quarter of all English secondary schools were using biometric technology. The group said many schools implemented cashless fingerprint systems before a change in the law saw schools obliged to ask for parental permission.

But Accrington headteacher Xavier Bowers, from Mount Carmel High, said the bio- system ensured a smooth, cashless experience, with few queues at lunchtime.

However, he said: “We have always asked parents for permission.

“It is an extremely useful system. It eliminates queues and also takes away any stigma associated with free school dinners.

“We ensure information is destroyed when the child leaves school.

“However, I can see why people are worried about how data might be used.”

Lancashire’s NUT representative Simon Jones said: “It is a really useful application of modern technology.

“People register their thumbprints on iPads, so why not in this situation?

“I would never feel fear over registering my fingerprints because I have nothing to hide.”

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Fingerprinting and tracking might save some admin work but the risk is pupils think it is normal to be tracked like this all the time.”