FINGERPRINT technology is replacing cash in a bid to get the dinner queues moving in Bolton high schools.

Children at four schools in the borough are paying for their meals simply by pressing their finger on to a biometric pad under the new scheme.

Turton School in Bromley Cross is one of the schools trialling the new “cashless” catering system in the dinner hall after obtaining a Government grant towards the £16,000 cost.

Senior managers at the school say the system will end the often-used “Miss I’ve lost my dinner money”—while increasing the take-up among those who are entitled to free school meals.

Turton School business manager Alison Bailey said its benefits also include reducing queueing time while introducing students to money management.

Mrs Bailey said: “The original intention was for each student to pay by card at the till, but we have decided to go with a biometrics payment system to avoid issues such as lost cards.

“It is a simple system which recognises all students by their fingerprint and payment is made at the till by pressing a finger on a pad.

“The system does not actually store a copy of their fingerprint but converts each print into a individual code, similar to a barcode.”

The fingerprint also brings up a photograph of the child which can only be seen by the person on the till.

Young people will see how much they have spent and how much they have left in their “account”, which is topped up by parents in more traditional ways.

Mrs Bailey added: “This will help increase the uptake of free school meals among those who are entitled to them because under this system everyone is the same and you cannot tell who is on free school meals and who is not.”

The cashless system is part of a larger scheme to overhaul the school dining areas. Pupil Emily Siddall, aged 14, said: “I think it is a good idea because there is not a risk you will lose your dinner money and the queue will move quicker.”

Announcing the scheme to parents in the school newsletter, headteacher John Porteous said: “Why not iris-scanning, you may ask? As long as they stop short of the airport-style full body scan to check what the students had for lunch, I’m OK with any up to date system.”

Other schools using the system are Ladybridge School in Deane; St Joseph’s RC in Horwich; Mount St Joseph in Farnworth; and Canon Slade in Bradshaw.