A new white paper by LACA and BESA partner, ParentPay aims to help inform schools, caterers and local authorities on how to ‘go truly cashless’ with online payment collection and PayPoint
There are clear issues around pupils bringing cash and cheques into school to pay for school meals, trips and clubs. Cash can be spent in the corner shop on the way to school, act as a trigger for bullying or simply be lost.
The Bank of England’s introduction of new polymer notes and the increasing number of high street bank closures will add additional costs and challenges to cash based schools. And, these issues coupled with the security of storing cash on-site mean more schools than ever are going cashless in 2017.
Schools and caterers are realising significant benefits including reduced administration time and direct cost savings.
By offering online payments facilities combined with cash payment alternatives in local PayPoint stores, ensuring that school receives money safely and in the case of dinner money, spent in the way it was intended – on a healthy school meal.
In return, schools and caterers are realising significant benefits including reduced administration time and direct cost savings.
What do schools think?
ParentPay’s recent Income Collection Survey 2016/17 was conducted with school staff, exploring perceptions and challenges to becoming a ‘cashless’ school.
Over 800 schools responded to the survey and provided valuable insight into the challenges and steps taken to going ‘truly cashless’ with an online payment system.
A cashless white paper is available that includes a checklist for schools, caterers and local authorities considering going cashless, creating a business case, assessing costs and researching suppliers.
Agree a cashless strategy with the senior leadership team (SLT) and communicate this to all stakeholders: For instance, you could say:
a) in September all new parents will be required to pay for all items online, whereas existing parents will be ‘encouraged’ to pay online or through PayPoint
b) Alternatively, from September all parents will be required to pay online or through PayPoint.
Have a plan that can deliver your strategy: Central to your plan should be communication with parents and with staff. System training should be included, so you can maximise return on your investment.
Raise awareness and interest: Consult with pupils and parents so they know what to expect, use parent evenings, emails and newsletters to let everyone know when and how they can make cashless payments.
Spark action: Consider a promotion to encourage parents to pay online or through PayPoint. For example, Christmas meals need to be ordered and paid for online, do not accept cash payments for trips in school.
Be inclusive and provide for cash-based payers: Not everyone has a bank card or account; so, ensure your solution offers a socially inclusive payment option such as PayPoint, which allows parents to pay the school with cash in over 33,000 local shops across the UK.
Remember alerts and reminders: Providing balance or new payment item updates via SMS and email alerts to parents will help increase uptake and reduce parental debt.