Scan plan takes a swipe at truancy

THE SUNDAY MAIL, February 1, 2009

Big Brother is coming to a school near you with the roll out of a scanning system that tracks student movements.

About 100 Queensland schools this year will introduce the security system where students swipe their student card whenever they arrive at or leave the school.

The system has been successfully trialled at Keebra Park State High at Southport on the Gold Coast, and it is now being bought by schools across the state.

The move follows the launch of a State Government campaign, Every Day Counts, after research showing students missed an average of 18 days of school last year due to sickness, family reasons or truancy.

Keebra Park principal Fran Jones said the ID Attend trial had gained the support of parents and community stakeholders like shopping centre owners. “Certainly the parents support it. They get a txt msg around 10.30 in the morning if their child is absent from school,” she said.

D Attend owner and product developer Kevin Beckwith said the trial of the system on the Gold Coast and at a western Brisbane school had produced “stunning” results.

“At one school, they had a drop in truancy of 60 percent in 18 months” he said.

An Education Queensland spokesman said there were no plans to introduce the system state wide, with the decision left to schools to fund the program from their own budgets. “The use of this system is an individual school decision based on local needs,” he said.

The cost for the school to implement the system is $3850 for the software program and $2 per student per year for maintenance. Ms Jones said the system saved on paperwork and reduced the workload for busy administrative staff.