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Smestow Academy: Biometrics

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL2310, tabled on 8 September 2022

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Department for Education issuing advice that “live facial recognition technology is not appropriate in schools or colleges”, what assessment they have made of Smestow Academy in Wolverhampton using live face and body scanning in classrooms; and what discussions they have had with the Academy about it.

Answered on

21 September 2022

Education is a devolved matter, and this response outlines the information for England only.

The decision to use biometric technology rests entirely with individual schools and colleges, who must ensure that the use of biometric data complies with all relevant legislation. The department does provide guidance, which makes it clear that schools must comply with the law when implementing biometric technologies, including the Data Protection Act 2018, UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

In July 2022, the department published a revised version of the guidance, ‘Protection of biometric data of children in schools and colleges’, to provide support on the use of automated biometric recognition systems.

Whilst the department has not held discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office on the schools in North Ayrshire Council, the department has engaged with the Information Commissioner’s Office on the department’s updated guidance.