Students simply look at a device when they arrive at school and, within seconds, they are scanned, identified and their attendance is registered. It saves hours of teachers' time recording attendance and 'lates', and provides an at-a-glance record of who's in and who's out. It also makes it easy to track poor attendance or lateness patterns, which would allow for early intervention to nip a problem in the bud. And it overcomes the so-called 'buddy punching' problem, where a student can make a false registration by swiping in someone else's card.
Face-recognition software is now widely used as an ID system, but this is the first time it has been adopted by schools in this country.
"Within five minutes of school starting, we know exactly who is in the building and if students come in late, it will show up," Ms O'Donnell said.
It is too early to say what impact the system will have on attendance and timekeeping, but when fully operational she said it would allow them to build up attendance profiles.
Sixth-year student Luke O'Callaghan-White (17), said there were a few 'Big Brother'-style jokes initially, but that had all passed. He said the system was "straightforward, efficient and preferable to a year head interrupting the first class for five minutes" to take a roll.