Cashless catering

What is a biometric cashless system?

At the heart of the biometric system is a software program which recognises each individual customer, holds individual cash balances and records expenditure and cash received. It also records where and when money is spent and on what food.

How are students and staff recognised by the system?

All students and staff will be registered by biometric measurement and photograph. The biometric measurement takes a part image of some of the co-ordinates of the fingerprint. This information is then converted, encrypted and stores as a unique number. This data cannot be converted back into any image of a fingerprint, nor can it be used by any other source for identification purposes.

What data will be held on the system?

Certain data will be held on the system to enable accurate operation. This will include the student’s name, tutor group, photo, account balance, meal entitlement and the biometric number. Other than the biometric number, this data is already held on the School’s administrative system. All the data will be handled under the guidelines of the Data Protection Act. The data will only be utilised for the purposes of the cashless catering system and will be destroyed when the data is no longer relevant (such as when a student leaves the school).

How is biometric system utilised to obtain food?

A finger will be placed on a biometric scanner at a till. This will activate an individual’s account which will be displayed on screen for the catering operator, including name and current balance. The operator will then enter the selected food and drink into the system from an itemised keyboard, while the amount spent and the new balance will show on the display.

How is money entered into the system?

Money will be entered onto the system using the ParentPay secure online payment facility.


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

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

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

The system will then allow on a daily basis the required cash amount for each individual student to be allotted to their current cash balance. However, any under spend or missed dinner will be identified by the system and will not be added to the next day’s balance.

The student can also add extra cash on to his or her balance to enable a greater daily spend on the school dinner than allocated by their free meal allowance. As this allowance can only be spent on a school dinner, extra cash added into the system can also be used for break time snacks.

How do parents use Parentpay?

All parents are issued with a unique username and password to log into the Parentpay website – Parentpay accepts MasterCard and Visa credit cards and Maestro, Switch, Delta, Electron, Solo and Visa debit cards. Parents can view online the balance of their child’s catering account and a record of payments made. Parents have the flexibility to make payments online as regularly and as often as they wish and may find it convenient to top up their child’s account monthly or weekly. The minimum top-up is £5.

Is it safe to make payments on the internet?

Yes. In fact, it’s as safe to pay online with Parentpay as it is to use a credit card in a shop or over the phone. Parentpay uses leading technology to process your credit/debit card transactions securely. All communication with the bank is encrypted (jumbled so no one else can read it). No credit/debit card details are stored in any part of the system.

What about our personal information?

Parentpay uses very limited amount of information about you and your child solely for the purpose of administering your account, information is not shared or given to any other organisations. Parentpay and the school operate under strict guidelines set out by the Data Protection Act 1998, which ensures the protection and care of personal information.

What do I do if I am unable to log onto Parentpay?

The Parentpay internet service should be reliable and available anytime. However, if parents
experience any problems they should contact the school for advice.

What if a parent needs to pay for their child’s meals in cash?

The school has registered with PayPoint so that parents are able to take cash to their local convenience stores in order to top up their child’s account.

How do parents use PayPoint?

For parents who do not wish to make payments via their bank account they can top up their child’s account using cash at PayPoint facilities in their local convenience stores. Parents who chose this method will be issued with a PayPoint card. Payments made by PayPoint may take up to 2 days to be credited to your child’s account.

Where can I find a PayPoint agent?

A full list can be found on the PayPoint website



Do credits to my child’s account expire?

No, all payments will remain on the account until debited for purchases made.

Will there be a daily limit for students?

The school will set a spend limit for all students of £4. Parents can choose to set their own limit by informing the school of the amount they require.

What if parents do not have internet access at home?

Parents may wish to visit their local library, internet café or use a computer at their work, if this is permissible

Once I have topped up, how quick will my child’s account be credited?

With ParentPay (online), if the top ups are carried out by 9am the students account will be credited in time for break and if top ups are carried out by 10.30am the students accounts will be credited in time for the lunchtime session. PayPoint payments may take up to 2 days to be credited.

Can parents top up their child’s account by cheque?

Currently we don’t have the capacity to accept cheques.

My child brings sandwiches to school; can my child purchase food on the odd occasion?

All parents will be issued with usernames and passwords and will be able to access ParentPay at any time, or use any other payment method mentioned above in order to credit their child’s account. Therefore, students who bring sandwiches to school will also be able to make purchases using their card. It is advisable that, even if a student brings sandwiches, there is a small amount on their account.