Thinking about how you can improve the school experience for the children in your school?
Children go through a great deal during their time in school, and it may be part of your role to make it as easy for them as possible. Figuring out the best ways to do this can be a challenge, but with many aspects of school life migrating to digital and online platforms, looking at education technology (EdTech) could be a great place to start.
Cashless payment solutions, such as ParentPay, are being adopted more and more by UK schools, and this trend is set to continue.
One of the biggest pulls towards adopting a cashless solution in your school will no doubt be the time that can be saved on admin tasks like counting cash, managing kitchen orders, and administering free school meals (FSM).
Not only could you be saving time, but you could also be saving money as well. With budgets tightening and options for income limited, we know that 1 in 4 schools intend to increase school fundraising activity.
Cashless systems can be the perfect tool for schools who wish to increase income and make payment collection more efficient and safer. In the case of Our Lady of Compassion Catholic Primary School in Solihull, their cashless solution has opened the door for many parents who are now more able to raise funds for their school.
Anita Donnelly, Office Staff for Our Lady of Compassion Catholic Primary School, has said that “we have increased our fundraising income by over 180%. Collecting online has made fundraising much easier”.
But while it may be plain to see some of the administrative benefits of a cashless system in schools, how could this software benefit children?
Together with the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA), and their partners, we’ve conducted school budget research and collected real case studies to help answer these sorts of questions.
5 ways that a cashless solution can benefit children:
Your school works hard to provide healthy, nutritious meals for your pupils. But what’s to stop them from taking their school dinner money and spending it on ‘less healthy’ food in the corner shop?
With a cashless system in place, dinner money will be allocated to each pupil’s account, and can only be spent at the school canteen. This eliminates the option for children to take their money and spend it elsewhere.
During our research, we were able to get comment from industry experts such as Anne Bull, former LACA National Chair, who explained that “It [cashless systems in schools] reduces the chances of sweets and junk food being purchased on the way to and from school – something which parents flagged as a concern in our research.”.
It’s no surprise, then, that 90% of parents have said that they’d rather pay for school items online.
2. Confusion Over Costs
It happens all too often.
A child arrives excited to leave their lessons behind and adventure out of the school grounds for an organised school trip. They have the money in their bag, all counted up and ready to hand over and start the fun. But when they do, they’re told the amount isn’t right.
Whether the cash was lost, stolen, spent irresponsibly, or there was confusion over the cost, embarrassment and the inconvenience of chasing up would be avoided with a cashless solution in your school. All costs for trips, activities, and items in the school shop are clearly set out, and the parent can easily make the correct payment themselves, from their smartphone or desktop.
With input from cashless schools all over the country, we found that most schools agree that pupil and staff security was the most important benefit of their cashless solution.
The reduction in physical cash that children can carry removes a key trigger for bullying in schools. It can give parents peace of mind that their child won’t be targeted by bullies when they need to send them to school with money to pay for something.
4. Reducing Stigma around Free School Meals
Another benefit of adopting a cashless system in your school is that it can also help to reduce the stigma surrounding children who qualify for free school meals (FSMs).
It’s not always easy to announce to the school kitchen staff (and the rest of the lunch queue!) that you aren’t paying for your school dinner because you’re an FSM pupil. There’s a lot of stigma that is associated with FSMs, and announcing this to the school every lunchtime can be tough.
With a cashless solution in place, children won’t need to be seen handing over cash, or announcing that they’re having a free school meal. The process for all pupils will be the same, creating a safer and more comfortable environment.
5. No More Lost Money
It doesn’t matter who you are, you probably lose or misplace cash from time to time (quick reminder to check behind the sofa). It’s no different when you’re a child at school.
The last thing a child wants when it’s 12:00 and their stomach is roaring for some food, is to reach into their pocket and find out the money they put in there that morning is missing.
This won’t be a worry in a cashless school, and children can benefit from knowing that their dinner money is safely locked away in their account until they need to spend it in the canteen.
Can My School Go Cashless?
Yes, of course.
There are many cashless payment providers out there, but finding the best solution for your school can be like treading through a minefield.
Consider the best system to match your school’s specific needs, and who needs to be involved in making the decision to change.
We’ve come up with a checklist of things to help you out when thinking about a cashless solution.