The primary objective for implementing a new software solution at Notre Dame High School was to improve the customer experience for students/parents and internal processes for the school, by streamlining existing administration and payment procedures.
Notre Dame High School (Notre Dame) is part of St. John the Baptist Catholic Multi Academy Trust. This currently comprises of one secondary and six primary schools across Norfolk and Suffolk.
The Multi Academy Trust’s vision is the provision and development of a world class community of schools, providing the highest possible care, support opportunities and outcomes for every child.
Notre Dame has been using WisePay’s managed software services for all of their fund income since May 2011, just before they became part of the Multi Academy Trust. The cashless catering, trip booking and music payment services were all implemented together by the previous Business Manager, whose objective was to become as cashless as possible, thereby creating a more centralised service, across the whole Trust.
The education environment is evolving rapidly, bringing significant changes to the way schools are managed. More and more Multi Academy Trusts are being set up with the added benefits of providing more school-to-school support, shared staff resources, finance and administration services. With budgets under constant scrutiny, schools are under increasing pressure to save money and streamline their processes.
WisePay is a secure online payment service that will allow parents and guardians to make payments and bookings using all major debit or credit cards. WisePay has been operating in hundreds of educational establishments across the country for over 20 years, including state schools, academies and colleges and in local authorities. By offering consistent services and tools for collaboration across the academy, WisePay’s portfolio of products and services help the Trust as a whole to improve their technical performance.
Notre Dame operates a cashless catering system. The main dining room operates on a totally cashless basis and a student’s account can be topped up either online using WisePay’s system, or by using cash in the revaluation machine. The Sixth Form Common Room operates the cashless system and also takes cash.
All students’ names are input to the system and once it is set up, every parent is given a WisePay log-in. The payment portal takes the lunch money which is banked online, then it notifies the internal catering system that the money has been received. Parents have full visibility of their child’s WisePay account and neither the school nor WisePay can see or store card details. WisePay’s Services are very flexible. Payments can be made to a single or multiple bank accounts or one central MAT fund. WisePay’s Central Wisdom allows the MAT to see all payments in one central area from each individual school.
Historically, when school trips or functions, such as the Year 11 Prom, were booked and paid for, the Finance Department had to collect and count the money. This caused several administrative challenges: it was very time-consuming and was a drain on resources.
The majority of parents have stopped paying by cash or cheque and book and pay for school trips online. The WisePay service is very flexible so trips can even be paid for in instalments, to suit a variety of budgets. The system also has additional functionality that allows for a trip parental permission option, as well as separate selections for adult and child pricing.
Music lessons are now also managed via WisePay, to include registration, automatic invoice generation and online payments, making the whole process seamless.
WisePay’s software as a service has been very well-received throughout the school. Online transactions for students and parents are significantly quicker and more efficient, and the staff now have more time to focus on improving the student experience.
Several of Notre Dame’s feeder primary schools are now using WisePay’s services. St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School has embraced WisePay’s capabilities and now use their software services for five different processes. The take-up from parents was an incredible 90% in the first fortnight. By the time pupils move up to Notre Dame secondary school, parents and pupils are very comfortable with the cashless environment.
Another major benefit of deploying WisePay’s solutions is that reconciliation is very easy. Reports can simply be downloaded, and WisePay’s functionality provides a much better audit trail for the finance department to reconcile the bank statements against the online accounts.
Recently, three more primary schools have implemented WisePay, allowing parents to book and pay for meals in advance, book and pay for wrap-around care before and after school, and pay for trips. All business managers have access to the same reports, creating transparent management reporting across the MAT.
“WisePay is really working well for us, both for the staff and the parents. I am very happy with the services that WisePay provide: the system is intuitive and flexible and the WisePay team are very proactive and responsive. If we have an enquiry, I just email the technical team and they resolve any issues with a very fast turnaround.”
“The school and the Trust now receive consistent, cost-effective managed services from WisePay, ensuring they can continue to grow and develop in a collaborative environment.”
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