Pupils at a Sunderland school will fall under the beady eye of new technology when paying for their school dinners.
The Venerable Bede school will be the first in the country to use iris scanning technology when it installs the devices in its canteen and library.
In the canteen, pupils will have their iris scanned and details of their lunch entered into a computer.
A database flags up whether the children have picked up any foods banned from their diets, or have overspent their budget.
The technology will also help put an end to long queues, as the scanners can handle 12 children per minute.
At the beginning of each week the amount pupils can spend is paid either by direct debit or straight to the school office.
When used in the library the technology will allow children to check out books and CDs.
The scanners have been developed by LG Electronics and are linked to a secure school database that holds the pupils' personal details. The school has paid for the technology from its budget.
Head teacher Ed Yates told vnunet.com that keeping an eye on pupils' diets has a number of benefits and shouldn't be seen as spying.
"Parents can tell us if they don't want a child to eat certain foods, say if they have an allergy or for religious reasons, or if they want them to eat healthier food," he said.
Yates added that it could also highlight whether a child is suffering from an eating disorder.
"The scanners will end long queues as no money changes hands at the till. It will also help remove the stigma and bullying faced by some children who get free school meals," he explained.
"In secondary schools a lot of children won't claim their free lunch because they are embarrassed, and no cash is brought to school."
Iris scanning uses physiological characteristics for automatic personal identity verification. The image generated is as unique as a fingerprint.
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