The College uses Cashless Catering as a way of streamlining our provision of services to parent and students. Once you are registered onto the system, not only will you be able to pay for trips, music lessons and stationery items online, but you will also be able to top-up your child’s school meals account so that they can purchase food from the cafeteria at lunchtime, and the tuck area at break.
The cashless catering system makes use of biometric scanning, which means that the person places their thumb/finger onto a scanning device which will identify them, and their account will be debited for the items that they have purchased. This is a very secure and efficient system.
PLEASE NOTE: If there aren’t any funds in a student’s account when they go to the cafeteria or tuck, they will not be able to make any purchases, as cash at the tills will not be accepted.
Internet Payment systems are installed in many schools nationally, bringing a number of important benefits to parents:
- Simple to use web interface.
- Parents can view their payment history online.
- Reduce risk of pupils losing cash.
- A faster, more efficient service for catering, so that queuing time is reduced, thus increasing meal uptake.
- Parents can pay by cheque, or ideally over the Internet for their children’s meals, therefore cutting out the need for children to carry cash.
- Parents can have increased confidence that dinner money is used for the intended purpose.
- Students entitled to free school meals will have a daily credit limit automatically applied to their account and this entitlement remains completely confidential (parents can subsidise this if they wish) thus banishing the stigma attached to free school meals.
- The system places a daily spend limit of £4.00 on each account (this can be changed at a parent’s request).
- Parents are able to see what items have been purchased, which may help encourage “healthy eating”.
- Catering staff obtain detailed reports, so can tailor their menus accordingly, and reduce waste.
If you have any queries, or problems, please do not hesitate to contact the Finance Office via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step One- Get Registered
You should have received a letter detailing your username and password, from each of your children, for the Internet Payments system. Please use the information from your youngest child to register on the website, from the link below. Siblings will show under this one login, if this is not the case, please let us know.
You can request this information from the finance office at any time.
Step Two - Top-Up your Pre-Payment Account for Cashless Catering
Online - when you have logged on, choose the option “prepayment account” to make payments into your son’s/daughter’s school meal account. Each child has their own account, so be sure to top-up each one as required. We would recommend a minimum top-up of £10.00. Any credits made online will take an hour to be available on the account, so we would ask that you top-up at 10:30am at the latest for lunchtime money to be available on that day.
In College - take cash or cheque (cheques payable to Caterlink Ltd) to the kitchen window in the courtyard by music before the end of morning registration. Credits that are made by this time will be available by break time on the same day. We would encourage parents to pay at least weekly into their son’s/daughter’s accounts, to reduce the number of visits to the Kitchen. Ideally we would like you to use the Internet Payments system so you will then be able to keep track of the account, see what has been purchased, and not have to provide cash for your children to bring to school.
Step Three - Purchase Food
In the cafeteria / tuck, students will select the items to purchase as normal. When they take the items to the till, the operator will key them in, and the total will appear on the till display. The student’s thumb/finger then needs to be placed on the scanner to identify the customer. The transaction is then complete and the account balance will be adjusted.
If the account balance is low the till operator will inform the student that the account needs to be topped up. The balance on the account shows on the till display, if it is below £4.00. If the daily spend limit is exceeded, the till operator will inform you and you will be required to put some of your purchases back.
Step Four - Maintain Your Pre-Payment Account
Log-in to the Internet Payments system, check the pre-payment account balance, perhaps see what has been purchased, and add money to the account as required.
Below are some questions, with answers, that you may have. If at any stage there is anything that you are not happy with, or would like to be explained in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact us. In the first instance, we would ask that you use our dedicated email address: email@example.com.
How is the students’ data entered into the system?
The student’s name is confirmed and then s/he places their thumb/finger onto a small electronic pad – three successful scans are required. Before we take a biometric reading we will have received a signed biometric consent form from a parent/carer.
Are there are any health risks?
No, it is not a laser.
Should I be concerned about security?
No. The data is securely stored on the College computer system. It is solely used for the Cashless Catering system, it is not shared for example with the College Library system. The actual fingerprint image is not stored, but a numerical representation which is calculated from it and the fingerprint image cannot be re-constructed from this number.
What happens when the student leaves the College?
All the information about the individual is deleted. Data may also be deleted at the individual’s request.
I am still concerned; I do not want my child’s biometric reading taken.
We can offer a card for students with parents who do not wish the biometric reading to be taken, however this is to be an exception and there will be a cost to replace lost cards.
- ‘Biometric technologies can offer some additional advantages over other identification mechanisms:
- Pupils do not need to remember to bring anything with them to the canteen and there is nothing that can be lost
- Costs can be reduced, for example, there is no requirement to replace lost or damaged smartcards
- The risk of bullying and theft my be further reduced, as there is no opportunity for pupils to steal and use other pupils’ smartcards to pay for meals’
Becta, Guidance on biometric technologies on schools. July 2007
Free School Meal Students
Each day, free school meal students will be allocated a daily allowance of £2.80. This allowance can only be in one transaction during the lunchtime period. If the funds are not used one day they cannot be carried over to the following day. If your son/daughter wishes to purchase items at break, or spend more than the daily allowance, then the account must be topped-up with your own funds. The free school meal status remains confidential at the till point. Once your entitlement to free school meals has been confirmed, you will automatically be put onto the system.
Are you eligible for free school meals?
To check your eligibility and apply go to https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals
Please do not hesitate to talk to us further if you have any concerns or questions.