Are You Ready to Reinvent Your School Payments?

Time to read: 5min 21 Feb 2021

Does your school have a good payments system? How about a great one?

We know that 83% of UK schools will be cashless in 2 years, so chances are that you’ve migrated your school payments online, or are at least considering it. You’ve done your research, so you know that some cashless payment solutions do much more than just online payments.

As the UK market leader, we’ve implemented a user-friendly Trips module which is custom-built for safeguarding. Our system allows schools to manage consent forms, emergency contacts, and allergies, as well as payments.

But cashless systems haven’t always been this comprehensive. They started small.

From Croydon and Beyond

Early cashless payment systems were limited.

The answer to these limitations came in 2003 when we launched the first online school payments system, ParentPay. When we launched ParentPay, people needed a little convincing. But a project by Croydon Council in 2004 alleviated these reservations.

The work in Croydon continued and can be pinpointed as the catalyst for a truly cashless revolution that is now happening in schools all over the country.

The first step was to integrate online payments with canteen tills and the school MIS. Trialing this with Croydon Council was a success. The door was now open for schools to adopt a truly cashless solution, something that is now a reality for over 80% of secondary and 75% of primary schools in Croydon.

Enabler not barrier

Successful cashless projects have since been rolled out all over the UK, including the London Borough of Enfield, Northamptonshire, Brighton & Hove, and Lancashire.

Clint Wilson, Corporate Development Director at ParentPay, commented that “the key to success was ensuring that everyone could pay for a variety of school items regardless of whether they owned a debit/credit card or had access to the internet, enabling schools to collect and manage all income online regardless of the payment method – so combining online payments with cash collection through PayPoint outlets in local stores was crucial”.

Reaping the Benefits

Croydon Council didn’t look back. And why would they? The result of the Croydon project was ground-breaking; it created the first and only truly socially inclusive payment solution in the marketplace.

Within the first two years of introducing a fully cashless solution, Croydon Local Authority reported significant increases in meal uptake. What’s more, schools started using ParentPay to collect and manage all of their parent income.

Admin time decreased by 80%Marianne Lewis, who was responsible for commissioning the cashless project for Croydon Local Authority, added that “it’s been a great success – enabling schools to redeploy financial and administrative resource to more important tasks”.

The benefits don’t stop there.

Getting parents on board with a new online school payments system isn’t always plain sailing. But once parents are using the system, collecting income for things like fundraising can become a lot smoother.

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”.

Children are also enjoying a better school experience when school payments are migrated online. The reduction in physical cash that children can carry removes a key trigger for bullying, and there’s no more risk of finding out that money has been lost.

And that’s just scratching the surface. With so many more benefits of cashless payment systems, is it a surprise that 60% of all UK schools are already totally cashless?

Don’t Take Our Word For it…

ParentPay is tried and tested. Used by over 11,000 schools and 4 million parents, we have only continued to improve since the success of the Croydon project.

114% total increaseSome schools, like Billesley Primary School in Birmingham, have noticed a significant increase in income since adopting our system. Within the first 3 years of use, Billesley noticed a 114% total increase in online income.

Finance Assistant, Shazia Begum, explains how Billesley Primary School “looked at a number of providers during the procurement process, and ParentPay’s reputation and experience, as well as ongoing developments with other school MIS and platform integrations, made it a clear choice for us”.

Ongoing support was important for Billesley: “The support and implementation team have been really helpful and supportive” says Shazia. “As with anything new, there were a few teething problems which have been resolved with minimum fuss. The ParentPay support team can talk you through any issues you may have and follow up with an email”.

It’s happening in MATs too.

Avocet Multi Academy Trust in Suffolk was looking to improve efficiencies when it came across ParentPay. Zoe Stewart, Trust Finance Office for Avocet Multi Academy Trust, says that “as a trust, the key benefits have been the more efficient and effective use of admin staff time across all schools. The cloud-based system has proved invaluable for managers to access individual school information from any location”.

55% increaseParents have also noticed the benefits of their school’s online payment system: “Parents are happier with this option because their child is spending money where they intended”, said Zoe. The convenience of their school payments system has also lead to increased income for Avocet, with a 55% increase in online income over 3 years.

Getting their parents on board was key for Avocet Multi Academy Trust, and Zoe Stewart recognises that “as with anything in schools, change can be met with resistance. However, once we recognised the major time savings for the Academy, we knew that it would be of huge benefit to both staff and parents. We gave parents a full term’s notice, guided them through the process with detailed instructions in our weekly newsletters, and of course, we’re always happy to offer our assistance via the school office”.

Reinventing Your School Payments

Searching for the perfect payment system for your school is tough. There are so many options out there, and finding the right solution to meet your school’s needs can take time.

If you’re looking to reinvent your school payments (whether you’re after a change in provider or thinking of converting to cashless payments), there’s a lot you’ll need to consider before you settle on the best solution.

To help you out with your decision, we’ve created a checklist of things you should be thinking about in order to secure the right payment provider.

Download Our Checklist For ‘How to Secure the Right Cashless Payment Provider’.

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