SCHOOLS in York are to get renewed advice on fingerprinting pupils.

Education chief Carol Runciman has vowed to renew advice to schools and governing bodies in light of new Government guidelines about informing parents before taking fingerprints.

Last month, The Press revealed some schools in York may have been breaking the law by fingerprinting children without the knowledge of their parents, according to national education bosses.

But the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) yesterday refused to outlaw the controversial practice altogether. It will be publishing guidelines next month, to "encourage" schools to seek consent before taking biometric data.

Coun Runciman, executive member for children's services, said: "We have already advised schools to get parental permission and I will be looking at sending out further advice. The decision ultimately lies with the schools and their governing bodies however."

Manor School, one of those involved in the controversy, last month revealed its governors had been asked to assess whether fingerprinting undermined pupils' civil liberties.

Manor was one of more than a dozen schools which The Press revealed to be using library systems that rely upon thumbprint recognition, but one of only two doing so without parental knowledge. The other was All Saints'.

Under the Data Protection Act, schools do not have to seek parental consent to take and store children's fingerprints.

Manor, has written to parents explaining the system and offering them the chance to withdraw their children.

Head teacher Brian Crosby said only two out of 643 children had since been taken off the system.

Privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner will, however, urge schools to seek parental consent.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner said: "Because this is a fairly sensitive area, we are encouraging schools to adopt best practice and seek the consent of both pupil and parent."

The DFES says it does not have figures for how many schools are already using biometric data, but about 3,500 schools have bought the equipment.