“With 590 pupils on roll, our aim was to reduce the amount of cash received in school, along with the time spent on associated tasks and processes such as counting cash, issuing receipts and reconciling,” explains Jenny Farrell, SBM at Hugh Sexey Church of England Middle School MAT in Somerset,
“I had used ParentPay at my previous school, so knew how effective it was at improving processes, including security.”
KEY BENEFITS FOR SCHOOLS
Hugh Sexey CofE Middle School wanted to introduce an online payment system to predominantly increase efficiencies – and they did just that.
Going cashless offers peace of mind, as Jenny explains. “The main benefit the school has gained from introducing online payments is the amount of time saved which would have otherwise been spent on issuing receipts and processing small payments.
“Not only have we removed these tasks but we have also found less time is spent banking and, because of the online audit trail, we have a more comprehensive record of payments received.”
GETTING PARENTS ENGAGED
There are different approaches you can take when it comes to getting parents on board; it’s something that requires some encouragement. “We took a supportive approach with parents and have always offered to talk them through the sign-up process, or invited them into school to do so,” Jenny says.
“From my experience I believe it is more beneficial to inform parents that no cash payments will be taken from a specified date – otherwise you end up with two systems running, which creates more work. Having said that, there was a growing demand from parents for the option to help reduce the risk of pupils losing money. Our take up is in the region of 95%, so the cash volume has dropped significantly.”
LESSONS LEARNED, LESSONS SHARED
Depending on your school’s plan and objectives regarding online payments there are different approaches to take when it comes to going cashless. Jenny offers her advice, “If you are able to take a firm stance, and say no cash payments in school from a specific date, I would recommend this, otherwise you have two systems to operate and record keeping can become onerous.
“We do make allowances when circumstances dictate. For example, parents of pupils in their final year have been less receptive to activating their accounts because their child is leaving.”
She also outlines her dream for the future. “Our long-term goal is that all three tier schools in our MAT will use ParentPay, meaning parents will only have to activate one account.”