School Meals

The school uses a cashless system for the catering service to improve on the existing high quality of the school meal and dining experience for the students. We are sure you will appreciate the advantages the system offers parents and pupils of the school.

The system has enabled us to deliver a more efficient, faster service and to continue to provide wholesome, healthy, and enjoyable meals at the lowest cost.

For your convenience and to assist us in administration of the service, the meals can be paid online using Parent Mail or with cash using the payment points in school.

Online payments can be made using Parent Mail once registration has been completed.

Cash payments are completed by inserting the cash into automatic cash terminals (available through-out the day) to “top-up” their account. The automatic cash terminals are programmed to accept £20, £10 and £5 notes and £2, £1, 50p, 20p and 10p coins.

Any amount of money can be paid into the student’s account held within the system, money spent on food will be deducted and students can always check the balance by using the automatic revaluation terminal to see how much they have left.  

Pupils entitled to free school meals will, each day, be automatically allocated the free meal value of £2.40 onto their account. They may choose to “top-up” this value if they wish.   

The school is also able to provide you with a report detailing each item of food purchased, each payment made to the system and the current balance.

There is a daily ‘spend limit’ programmed into the system of £5.00, this can be increased or decreased for an individual pupil by making a written request to the school.   

The legislation regarding the use of this technology requires school to obtain written permission from a parent or guardian in order for the students to use the biometric system. I would therefore be grateful if you could indicate your consent on the data sheet and return to school or on the consent form on the website. Please click here

This permission covers the student until they leave the school. Once your child leaves the school and ceases to use the system his / her biometric information will be securely and permanently deleted by the school.

What is a School Cashless Catering System? 

At the heart of the cashless system there is a computer controlled by I.M.P.A.C.T. - Software. This allows the system to recognise each individual pupil, hold individual cash balances, record cash spent and cash received, record where money is spent, on what food, on any specific date and time of day.

How are pupils recognised by the system? 

Each pupil will have their fingerprint registered which will then be translated to an Alpha Numeric number, the image is then discarded, when used this will then enter them into the system program and identify them by a number.

How is this then used to obtain a school meal? 

The pupil simply places their finger on a scanner at the point of sale; a display shows the server the pupil’s name, class and current cash balance held within the system. The selected food items are entered into the system from an itemised keyboard while the amount spent and the new cash balance shows on the display.

How is money entered into the system? 

(a) By ‘Cash Notes and Coin’ into one of the automatic cash revaluation terminals in school which is set to accept £20 - £10 - £5 Notes £2 - £1 - 50p - 20p - 10p coins.  (1p – 2p – 5p coins, cannot be used)

***NB***  We have experienced some problems with damaged notes being paid into the machine. If paying by notes please ensure they are good quality (i.e. not torn) before placing them into the machines.

(b) By Online Payment using ParentMail.

How does the revaluation station work? (Top up point) 

  1. The student places their finger on the scanner mounted on the Revaluation Station to enter the system. This then will display the students name and current cash balance held within the system.
  2. The coins/bank notes are inserted into the slot. Each incremental cash balance will show on the display.
  3. The student presses the red button to tell the system that the transaction is completed.

How will the pupil be able to check the current cash balance held in the system? 

(a) By using the revaluation station. Place their finger on the scanner to display the current cash balance. There is no need to deposit any money, just press the red button to finish.

(b) Also a Remote Display at the point of sale shows the new cash balance when the student places their finger on the reader.

How much can be spent in one day? 

A daily spend limit of £ 5.00 is set for all pupils and no food above that limit can be bought. This includes both school lunch and break time snacks. On request, an individual pupil limit of your choice could also be set.

What if the pupil does not hold a sufficient cash balance one day to pay for a school dinner? 

No pupil is refused a school dinner because they have not brought their dinner money to school with them. The school allows the pupil to loan money for one day.  However, the pupil would be expected to bring some money with them the next day to repay the loan. 

What about pupils entitled to a ‘free school meal’? 

The system works exactly the same for all pupils whether they pay or have a free school meal.  All pupils have their own account to use in exactly the same way.

The amount allocated for the free school meal is entered into the system by the software daily and is only accessible at dinner break.

Any under spend or missed dinner will not be added to the next day’s balance - it is only available on a daily basis.

The pupil can also add extra cash on to his or her balance in the system by using the revaluation station, to be used for break time snacks and to enable a greater daily spend on the school dinner than allocated by their free meal allowance.

What is meant by ‘dietary control’? 

Should the pupil have a specific food allergy, or be a diagnosed diabetic, this medical information can be coded into the system, preventing foods with allergy ingredients from being served to a particular pupil, by automatically locking out relevant buttons on the keyboard.

Do pupils have problems in using this system? 

When we introduced the system we anticipated some pupils may have found it difficult to control their accounts for the first couple of weeks. But our experience has been very positive and because of a daily spend limit, most pupils have learnt this important life skill very quickly and enjoy being in control of their account.

Will we be able to have any information on how the system is being used? 

Reports can be obtained from the system giving comprehensive information on all aspects of use for each individual pupil as well as each day’s service. These reports can be for a specific day or between any dates you wish, they will be dated and timed to the minute, and can be obtained from the main office.     

(a) To show every item of food served and the total cost of each serving.

(b) Individual payments made direct by cash and manually entered into the system.

(c) Each payment made by cash at the revaluation station by the pupil and if required, even the number of individual coins and the denomination.

(d) A total overview to show the date, time and location with cost of  each purchase value of all cash payments, value of all cash deposited in the revaluation station and current cash balance

Data Handling 

Certain data is held on the system to enable accurate operation. This includes your child’s name, class, photo, account balance and meal entitlement. This data will be handled under the guidelines of the data protection act and only used by parties directly involved with the implementation of the system. If you have any concerns or do not wish your child to be registered on the system please contact Mrs N Samuel, Director of Finance and Resources.

Main Benefits of Cashless Catering 

  • Convenient way of paying for school meals.  No more looking for change every morning.
  • Automatic free meal allocation with the pupil remaining anonymous.  
  • Queuing times are reduced through increased speed of service.
  • Discourages the misuse of school dinner money through spending in shops outside of the school grounds.
  • Alleviates many of the associated problems with the use of cash in schools.  i.e.:  Loss, theft and bullying.
  • Specific food allergy ingredients can be barred automatically.
  • Healthy eating is encouraged.
  • Detailed reports to analyse all aspects of the use of the system.
  • Having control of pupil accounts by pupils using the system teaches important life skills.
  • A more efficient delivery of service helps the caterers to provide wholesome, healthy and enjoyable school meals at a low cost.