Parental debt reduced at primary school

Why did Weston All Saints want to go cashless?

Alison Holbrook, School Business Manager at Weston All Saints Primary School stated:‘I already used ParentPay to top up my child’s account in another local school, and had seen first-hand how useful it is from a payers perspective. Naturally I was interested to see how it could benefit our school too, so I recommended ParentPay to our Head and the Governors’. Accepting manual payments from parents had never been an easy straightforward process, so staff at Weston All Saints were looking to streamline and refine their procedures: ‘We wanted to cut down on the amount of cash being manually collected and banked, in terms of time taken and security when banking too.’

Alison felt that greater transparecy was also required: ‘A number of disputes to ascertain if cash payments had been received by the school didn’t make our Finance team’s job any easier. By introducing an online payments system, we could have an easily accessible audit trail so both parents and staff are able to view statements online and their payment history per item is clear’.

Alison recognised pupil debt was an issue that needed to be addressed by providing their parents with an easier and more convenient method of paying for their children’s meals, trips, clubs and other school items available. ‘Now we have significantly reduced the amount of debt we saw prior to introducing ParentPay.’

Why was ParentPay selected?

Alison outlined the reasons ParentPay was the best fit for Weston All Saints:‘Our key drivers were to offer parents a reliable, proven and convenient online payment solution to help us reduce parental debt; so it was important that the solution we put in place should be coupled with proven debt reduction / mangement features. We wanted to ensure that our staff and parents had up to date visibility of account balances and were alerted if they went low.’‘ParentPay provided both the transparency we needed and also automatically alerted parents by SMS Text and/or email when balances got low, encouraging them to top up. I also knew how user friendly it was, being a parent user of the system myself.’

Alison continues: ‘We wanted a facility that would give us the ability to contact parents by email and/or text, and ParentPay provided us with this flexible option’.In addition to this: ‘ParentPay also allows collection of multiple payments at one time which are then settled to numerous bank accounts of our choosing. We have control over which bank account we allocate to each payment item, and the reporting reflects this which is very useful.

How were parents encouraged to get on board?

With technology forever advancing, more and more people take to the Internet to shop for groceries, clothes, holidays etc and the same can be said for school meals, children’s trips and clubs too. Alison adds: ‘The majority of our parents are IT competent and have been very receptive to the change. Part of the reason I introduced it was because parents often asked if they could pay online.

The few that don’t are in the minority’.For parents who are unable to pay online for any reason, there is always the added option of paying via PayPoint in their local store, and the school will still have a full online audit trail.What advice would you offer schools considering introducing online payments?Parental uptake and awareness amongst the user base is important.

Here is some advice from Alison:‘We gave parents plenty of notice, along with explanatory leaflets and posters prior to the launch, and we now have over 93% of our parents paying via ParentPay. We are very pleased with the improvements we have seen as a result of introducing ParentPay. Our staff and parents are a lot happier with this process compared to manual payments’.

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