for parents

  • Biometrics Info

    Details of some of the digital systems in use at St Columb’s College


    ParentPay is a digital method of payment within the school, accessed through a secure website ( ParentPay takes payments via debit card or credit card with a third non-card payment option called PayPoint.  For further information on Paypoint payments please click here (Link to Parentpay page on school website).  This is a popular school system so you may already be familiar with the procedure.  Once your child’s account has been topped up or credited your son then pays for all items using a fingerprint. To access the ParentPay system the school will issue you with a username and password. This is normally posted to new students as part of an induction pack during the month of August.


    St Columb’s College uses a biometric system (using a fingerprint) to allow pupils to conduct transactions without the need to carry cash.  It enables students to:

    • Pay for food in the Canteen and Link Area from funds they have loaded onto their account;
    • Pay for books/stationery in the Bookpress;
    • Free school meals are accessible through this account and students entitled to free school meals will have their account credited on a daily basis.

    A biometric image is a secure and reliable system unique to the individual as it cannot be forgotten, misplaced or stolen.  The security used, converts each fingerprint into a 13-digit number using a mathematical algorithm and is unique to each individual and protects the personal data from misuse. This information cannot be accessed by anyone outside the system or used or transferred outside the school.

    St Columbs College in line with Education Authority guidelines adheres to the principles of GDPR processing data in a lawful manner; using data only for the purposes described, ensuring it is kept secure and retained only for the pupil’s duration in the school.


    1.  What happens if somebody steals a backup of the school's database? Won't they then have everybody's fingerprint image?

    Every Biometric database is uniquely encrypted. If a school's security is compromised and a backup of the database is stolen, the data will be unreadable, even by another school.

    2.  If my child is fingerprinted can the police use the fingerprint?

    No image of a fingerprint is stored so the format cannot be use for forensic identification.

    3.  Does Biometrics record images of fingerprints?

    It is the policy of Suprema (biometrics image database) never to store images of fingerprints anywhere on their system. Only mathematical representations of certain points of interest are recorded, typically between ten and forty depending on the characteristics of the finger. This information is encrypted and is called a template. This data is extremely secure in its encrypted form but even if it were not encrypted it is impossible to recreate the original fingerprint image from this data.

    4.  Can an image be recreated from the stored data?

    No. The system uses a short string of encrypted numbers – too little to provide enough detail for the original print to be reconstructed.

    5.  Can the information held be used to identify someone in a court of law?

    Suprema (Biometrics) only records templates to an accuracy that can discriminate among populations of hundreds or a few thousand people. In the wider population the accuracy of the system is such that it could not be used for forensic matching with any degree of certainty and a court of law has never and could never use this information as evidence.

    6.  If I lose my bank card then it can be replaced, but I can’t replace my finger. If a template is stolen, have I lost my identity forever?

    The answer is no. The image template stored in the database is merely a string of encrypted numbers. If this string of numbers were to be removed from the database, it would be useless, because it cannot be recognized as a fingerprint. A fingerprint scanner checks for a real finger – it does not recognize a string of numbers, unlike a bank machine, which will accept a bank card from anybody who happens to know the PIN number.

    7.  I have heard that Suprema (Biometrics) is a central database. Where is the information kept?

    The Suprema database is stored locally on the school servers.

    8.  My child is going to be fingerprinted and I strongly object. How will they get their lunch or use the library? 

    The school will issue your child with an alternative method of identification, such as a pin code, which can be used in the canteen or library.


  • Parent Teacher Association

    The Parents’ Association of St Columb’s College / Friends of St. Columb’s primarily exists as a means of communication between parents, children and the school.  It also provides a useful forum where issues of concern to teenagers and parents can be addressed including an opportunity for input into some of our school’s policies (for example the updating of our Positive Behaviour Management Policy) and surveys.  The Parents’ Association also organises social occasions for pupils and parents.  These include quizzes, information evenings and fund raising events. 

    The committee met monthly (and sometimes more often) to deal with a variety of issues as they arose and planned for activities to raise funds and increase the profile of the Association. Among a range of highly successful events that took place over the last year was the Christmas Fayre, and being involved in the school’s Day of Sport - adding an element of fun to the day. This year the Association helped organised a 5km run in memory of Caolán McCrossan who died of cancer aged just 13, to raise money for CLIC Sargent - the charity that supported him and his family during his treatment. In November the Association organised an Information Evening for parents of all pupils on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. This included presentations from the PSNI and DIVERT followed by a Question and Answer session. The Association also helped to organised and / or facilitate candles for the Valedictory Mass and a Grandparents’ Day, as well as, helping to fund over 20 pupils from St. Columb’s going on the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes as helpers.

    In their continued efforts to increase membership the Association held recruitment drives at the Year 8 Parents’ Evening, Year 8 Grandparents’ Day and Year 8 Service of Commitment. These activities resulted in a slight increase in the attendance at meetings, and a number of additional parents indicated that they would like to be kept informed about the Association’s activities and would like to get involved.

    Funds raised have gone towards individual pupils, and in some instances, groups of pupils who attended events where they represented the school. Examples include STEM club, educational visits and running a debating competition. Pupils must be engaged in a school related activity to be eligible for consideration for funding.

    The Association takes this opportunity to welcome our new Year 8 parents and again thank those who contributed to our Association in any way in the past.  If you would like to become involved in the Association, please contact the school by email, phone or letter.

    The Association and the Principal would also like to thank all those parents and pupils who contributed in any way in the past year to make the Parents’ Association a success.

  • ParentPay Info

    About ParentPay


    ParentPay is a digital payment method, accessed through a secure website ( ParentPay takes payments via debit card or credit card with a third non-card payment option called PayPoint. To access the ParentPay system the school will issue you with a username and password. This is normally posted to new students as part of an induction pack during the month of August.

    If you have two or more children at a ParentPay school (either at St Columb’s or another local school who use Parentpay), you only need to activate one account to create your main account and then add your children via the ‘Add a child’ tab on your home page. Please visit and activate your account via the ‘Account Login’ on the home page of the site. Once you have activated your account you can make online payments straight away.

    Parentpay uses a series of ‘purses’ to allocate payments to different areas (e.g. School lunches, a school trip etc.). The main day-to-day purse is the ‘Top-up Account’ which pupils use to pay at the canteen and Link area for food and drink and also at the School Bookstore to purchase stationery.

    Please note that the Parentpay system does not store any confidential card data but will keep a record of your transactions for you to review at any time.


    Paypoint is a UK and Ireland system used to allow customers to make payments without the need for a credit or debit card at a locally designated Paypoint store (usually a community shop or Post Office). Should you wish to make use of Paypoint for a Parentpay item then please request a paypoint letter for the item from the school. You will receive a uniquely barcoded letter to make the payment. Please note that the letter can only be used to pay for that single item and nothing else.

    Should you have any technical difficulties regarding the Parentpay system then the school’s ICT support team will be happy to provide assistance.