School plans microchip bracelets

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014
School microchip bracelets
IAIN MCGREGOR

NOT IN FAVOUR: Kids at Swannanoa School are being measured for microchip bracelets which will be scanned for good behaviour. Mum-of-two Emma Goodin, pictured with son Jack, is outraged at the move.

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A North Canterbury school's plan to fit students with microchip bracelets to track their behaviour has prompted concern among parents.

Swannanoa School wants to use silicon bracelets as part of a scheme to reward good behaviour, minutes from a Parent Teacher Association meeting show.

Teachers would use portable scanners to add points to a student's online good behaviour chart with a reward when a certain amount of points was accumulated.

The school says the scheme would cost $7000 to set up. The proposal has been opposed by some parents.

The Ministry of Education said it did not recommend the bracelets and would expect broad parent support before it was adopted by the school.

Mother of two Emma Goodin said she did not want her children "treated like grocery items or criminals". She said parents had not been consulted, but her son said he had his wrist measured at school on Monday.

"I don't like the idea of my children being scanned," Goodin said.

Mother Liz Rutherford said she heard about the scheme "on the rumour mill" and feared it was a slippery slope. "If it's just for good behaviour, why would you invest that much money in it?"

Rutherford said she would remove her children from the school if the bracelet scheme went ahead.

Acting principal Kate McClelland said no decisions had been made about the bracelets. "Everyone's viewpoints will be considered."

After the school was approached by The Press, parents received a letter about the proposed new system.

In it, McClelland said the bracelet system was an alternative to a previously proposed electronic card that students could lose.

The microchip would store the child's first name, surname initial, points tally and the school house they belonged to. It would not have GPS tracking installed and bad behaviour would not be tracked.

New Zealand Principals' Federation president Phil Harding said regardless of whether the system was a good or bad idea, the school needed to communicate with parents.

Harding said each school had to make decisions about controlling student behaviour themselves and deal with the consequences.

Education Ministry spokeswoman Katrina Casey said: "Individual schools decide how to encourage good behaviour in consultation with their community.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said community consultation was essential when introducing new technology that could have privacy implications for a school.

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- Fairfax Media

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