French farce

Britain is not the only place where there is Orwellian talk of pupil databases and spotting potential criminals in nurseries.

Several secondary schools in France have received official-looking circulars telling them they are to be "laboratory lycees" for a computerised system of pupil supervision called Scolaris.

The letters say that Scolaris will involve CCTV, biometric identity cards for pupils, and will link schools with juvenile remand centres. A sinister-sounding "serenity committee" will bring together school staff and on-site police forces to head off crime, monitor discipline, instil citizenship and gather information on children from illegal immigrant families.

Luckily, it is a sophisticated hoax. Any bets on how long it might remain a hoax, on either side of the channel?

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