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Your Cards Right
Last term's school
pupil photographs at Bradford Grammar School, an independant school
dating back to the 17th century, were to be used for more than
the customary enclosure to doting aunts and uncles, since the
exercise was the first step towards the process of increasing
security through photo-ID cards.
All 1100 pupils and
the 200 teaching and ancillary staff were issued with the cards
which, through a barcode and magnetic stripe, have been designed
to perform a number of functions, including a library card and
meal ticket. Even school visitors are given a card on arrival
so that pupils know who is authorised to be on site.
The cards are produced
by a special printing method, called Dye-Sublimation, which allows
the individual's picture to be transferred directly on to credit
card size plastic from a photograph, video image or CD-ROM at
the same time as the school logo and any other data required such
as the unique barcode.
In fact, nearly all
the photographs taken over the two days at Bradford Grammar School
were downloaded from a CD-ROM supplied by the photographer, by
the card producer TPTechnologies, thus saving time and
expense. The fact that the cards are multi-functional gives rise
to substantial benefits.
"All pupils and
staff already had a library card" says Dr Brian Parker, teacher
of chemistry and school safety officer, "so we combined this
into the ID card. It's barcode is now the library ticket, the
actual code being based on the roll number allocated to each pupil
when they start at the school and which they keep throughout their
The barcode is read
into the library computer so that we can keep track of who has
taken out which books as well as issue reminders accordingly.
This is very useful for staff as well because we often have books
out on long term loan for research purposes".
Furthermore, the ID
card has also replaced the school's dinner ticket system; an initiative
which, in itself, should recoup the money spent on the card and
The school had always
operated a ticket system for meals but before the introduction
of the ID cards the number of meals per pupil was estimated and
paid for by parents in advance each term. The appropriate number
of printed tickets were then issued to each pupil.
However, in a typical
year not all meals would be claimed, either through commitments
away from school, or perhaps illness, and some tickets could be
lost. Now the kitchen staff simply check the photo, scan the barcode
and the data is fed straight through to the billing computer.
In future parents will be invoiced in arrears each term for actual
will be monitored during the first year of operation in order
to anticipate the demand for meals", says Dr Parker. "This
should result in savings on wasted food, not to mention the money
saved on having meal tickets security printed".
Whilst the school has
no plans to use the cards for registration, it will be looking
at using the magnetic stripe on the reverse side to the photo
and barcode, as access control to areas such as IT facility.
It is possible to programme
cards to unlock a door - and to change the code each week, if
so desired - which would give pupils more freedom to use the computers.
The school's software systems will record who has used the facility
so that demand can be monitored.
"Pupils do have
respect for the cards," concludes Dr Parker. "Not one
has misplaced them since their introduction, not even in the junior