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Getting your school ready for a full return

Practical steps to help schools go cashless and paperless 

Written by Kate Schroeder
Since the Education Act of 1880, which made school compulsory for children aged 5-10, we have never experienced such a sustained disruption to education as Covid-19 has brought to bear.
As we begin to emerge from lockdown many aspects are still unclear. The path will be far from easy as schools gradually re-introduce pupils to the classroom.  The initial challenge of lockdown and closures is now being replaced with the enormous challenge of ensuring a safe, socially distanced learning environment is in place for the big return.   

Simon Kneeshaw

As difficult as it will be to re-engage and energise pupils with focused class-based learning, many of whom will have had wildly varying experiences of lockdown, schools are taking this as an opportunity to embrace a future which will be better than before. 

We will soon see the total removal of cash in schools and the increased use of digital rather than paperbased learning and communication tools.  

To get a feel for how schools are preparing for a full return I spoke to Simon Kneeshaw, Head of School Support at ParentPay Group. The father of two teenagers and husband to a school bursar, Simon has a well-rounded view of the challenges facing schools.    


Why do you feel going cashless and paperless will play such an important part of the new school process and how can we help?

Queues of parents at the school office simply isn’t an option anymore. Handling money in a dining hall is now unthinkable…we must help schools do everything possible to make the right choices to keep pupils and staff safe. 

Encouraging use of payment and parent communication systems not only minimises cash handling, but also reduces unnecessary administrative contact with pupils and staff and centralises financial reporting

With over 80% of payments being made via a mobile device preCovid, schools are in a great place to meet the new safety guidelines.  Robust communication software is integral and best in breed Parental Engagement technology can help schools truly embrace a paperless relationship with parents.  

As we approach the end of the most disrupted academic year since 1880, what advice can you offer to ensure a smooth start to the new year?  

With some simple planning, schools can prevent future headaches, allowing staff to focus on the other important issues.   

School staff should consider the following as a good starting point: 

Ensure that your school information is up to date and available in all key parent facing platforms and apps.Steps to going cashless

Make sure any specific information you wish parents to be aware of in this difficult time is available.  This will allow you to keep them informed of any changes in school processes including reducing risks, through the complete replacement of cash with online payments.

Use technology to minimise unnecessary contact between staff and children.

Consider whether parent/student pre-booking and selection for school meals and clubs is made available via Parent facing Apps to minimise contact between children, teachers, and catering staff. School staff can also save time in classrooms by going paperless with parent and student comms using Parent facing Apps.

Review your school meal management processes.

Your meal processes will need reviewing to ensure everything is in place for your parents and carers before the start of the new year.  This should include checking menus or patterns are present (where applicable) and ensuring they are assigned correctly. 

Test your tech is ready.

Your tills, tablets, biometrics and other hardware solutions should all be switched on and checked.  Some devices may need recharging and syncing with parent payment systems, which should be completed well in advance of your school re-opening. 

Update your term dates in key MIS, cashless catering, and payment systems.

If you have adjusted your term dates so that the summer term ended early and you are planning on reopening (to any extent) before the next academic year, get in touch with your software suppliers to ensure everything is configured correctly to avoid any issues when children return. 

 

Your school contact details need to be correct.

Clear, efficient communication with parents is critical currently. Check that your contact details are up to date on all your parent facing platforms. 


Compared to some of the measures schools are having to adapt to, removing cash is one of the more straightforward issues to address quickly.  

For practical steps on how to go cashless read the Cashless Guide

To improve your parental engagement use our Parental Engagement Guide

Go paperless with advanced school meal booking and selections watch our Meal Manager video

For general questions or advice please get in touch