Ballarat Clarendon College to use face scan technology for class roll-call

Ballarat Clarendon College
Ballarat Clarendon College

FACIAL recognition technology will start scanning student attendance at Ballarat Clarendon College next term.

College is set to undergo a trial of the automated roll marking system at its Sturt Street campus for what The Courier understands to be the first of its kind in the Ballarat region. 

The futuristic move is also being adopted by other Victorian independent schools, including Sacred Heart College in Geelong.

College acting principal Shaune Moloney said the trial would be small-scale, in selection classrooms, to test efficiency and effectiveness. Mr Moloney said this trial was part of ongoing work in using technology to benefit students.

All Victorian schools are required by law to mark rolls through the day, to monitor attendance and to seek and record reasons for absence from parents.

This facial recognition technology will work as a periodic sensor, matching students against school identification and recording a timestamp of recognition. The device does not film classroom interactions and no images are saved.

Data is owned, controlled and managed by College with administrative staff to check scans and follow up unexplained absences.

Mr Moloney said manual roll-taking methods were effective but this technology allowed staff a chance to respond quicker to class absences in what was a duty of care, knowing students were safe through the school day or those who needed to leave early.

He said teacher no longer needing to take the roll helped to free up valuable teaching time in the classroom for carefully planned lessons. The technology would also help eliminate the need for teachers to update the roll for late students.

“For us, this is not a significant change and won’t be a big change,” Mr Moloney said. “We are running technology trials all the time, and this is just one of them. 

“If someone is absent, this will mark the roll and tell us straight away. We have a responsibility to manage attendance...And any increase time on task, increases teaching time.”

College will use the trial to consider long-term decisions.

Mr Moloney said the trial would be a learning curve for staff, who would realise advantages and challenges using the technology as they used it.