A SCHOOL in Bolton is thought to be the first in the North West to use facial recognition technology.

Canon Slade is using the very latest in technology to improve service during busy lunchtimes ­— and as an extra measure to keep pupils safe from allergies and keep the school Covid secure.

The biometrics system is similar to technology used by the latest mobile phones, and was implemented at the start of term. It is proving to be a huge success in delivering a quick and efficient dining room service, allowing pupils more time to sit, eat and socialise.

And headteacher Karen Sudworth stressed security was extremely high.

Schools across Bolton and the country use fingerprint technology throughout schools, for services like food purchases and library facilities, and now the Bradshaw school has gone one step further.

Mrs Sudworth said: “In 2018/19 our admission number increased with an extra 30 students in Year Seven, and having extra students every year since has impacted on lunch times ­— we have 1,750 students.

“This system, which has the highest level of security, provides a cashless catering system, which speeds up the queues because students are not looking around for their card as having to use the previous card system.

“The added bonus is it is completely contactless, helping enhance Covid secure measures.”

The system works by taking a template of half of the young person’s face, and when they reach the counter with their food, their picture is brought up along with any allergy information, providing an added level of protection.

Under new laws brought in thanks to lobbying by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the teen who died after suffering an allergic reaction to an undeclared ingredient in a pre-packed meal, food firms will from next month, provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling for direct sales.

Mrs Sudworth said: “Natasha’s Law will also affect schools and this technology allows the school to check what food students have bought and if there is anything they could be allergic to, it can be flagged up immediately. It is also a truly contactless system, there is no keypad just facial scanning.”

The system even allows twins to be separately identified. Pupils can be registered easily, but Mrs Sudworth said the system is not compulsory and pupils can still use a unique pin number instead.

“It is early days but the system is proving very beneficial, pupils have more time to sit and eat, we do not allow mobile phones, so they can socialise over their meals,” she added.

“This is an example of the school using technology to improve the student experience.”

Pupils say the new system works well.

Year Eight pupil Stephanie said: “I love the new Biometric System! It makes getting my lunch so much easier.”

Fellow classmate Blake added:: “I am really enjoying using this new technology. It’s so quick! We are the first school in the North West to be using this system.”