St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School (St Francis) was finding the collecting and banking of cash for school meals very time-consuming and labour-intensive. They contacted WisePay to find out how they could consolidate and centralise communications and finances to make life simpler, safer and more convenient.
St Francis was opened as a new school, on the site of the former junior school, in September 2013. It is now part of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Multi-Academy Trust. The school is located outside Norwich and caters for boys and girls aged 4-11 years. From September 2016, there are fourteen classes (two per year group) and approximately 420 children on the school register.
The school previously had no online system for collecting cash: it was a very laborious, manual process. As the school was rapidly expanding, there was also the increased risk that cash could be lost. The feeder secondary school within the Academy Trust, Notre Dame, had implemented WisePay’s cashless catering a year earlier working with POS tills, so it was advantageous for the parents and pupils to familiarise themselves with an online menu pre-ordering service prior to the move to secondary school. St Francis has successfully been using WisePay’s software services now for five years.
WisePay is a leading supplier of software as a service and a trusted partner of schools, colleges and academies throughout the UK. They provide a suite of integrated software services designed to automate administration processes to save time and reduce costs. Their online solutions are intelligent, customer-centric and offer advanced functionality as standard. WisePay is PCI DSS certified, so all transactions are secure and safe, with all personal data protected.
St. Francis first deployed WisePay’s online menu pre-booking service, ‘MealWise Plus’. They decided on a phased approach to deploy WisePay’s services so that parents, pupils and staff could get used to the new system.
The school always provides four meal options to choose from each day, at a set price, so parents have control over what their children are eating at lunchtime. The meal order for a Monday has to be booked by Sunday evening so that the kitchen has the correct orders for Monday morning and can allocate the meals accordingly. The school felt that this was the right cut-off time for the bookings, although this is flexible.
The school is able to budget for their meals more easily and the back-end catering reports help them to limit waste. The menu pre-booking service provides details of all the food ordered ‘at a glance’ in real-time reports.
There are on average 300 lunch orders per day and any queries about the online booking system are dealt with by the school reception.
WisePay’s online trips service manages school trips and activities, consents and payments. It is a cashless booking and payment system, which can segment trips by year group and pricing. This customised service allows trips to be divided into staged instalments if necessary, which gives added flexibility to parents so that they can budget accordingly.
School staff can report on what is still owing for a particular trip and see when the payment is due, helping them to manage finances more effectively.
WisePay’s before and after school club booking service is an online booking management system which manages booking allocations, allowing parents to book on to breakfast club and after school care. It is very flexible and can be customised by limiting places to ensure that staff/pupil ratios are met, which gives the school more control over the booking system.
In addition, if parents or benefactors choose to donate money for the school, or organise any fundraising events, they can now do so via WisePay’s secure Portal.
St Francis is now using WisePay’s services for five different processes. They were keen to fully engage parents once they had implemented the WisePay solutions so they held two online workshops. They also offered computer access to parents in school, making it available at all times for the first few months. There was an amazing 90% take up within two weeks.
The finance team now banks less than £30 cash per week. There is no longer the need to sift through numerous scraps of paper, loose change in unmarked envelopes and countless cheques, which was often hard to reconcile, and would take at least two days a week to count. All lunch monies are now processed online, with the money going directly to the contact caterers, Edwards & Blake, cutting out the school’s involvement.
The lunch report also doubles up as the fire register, letting staff know who is present in the school for safety and security checks, so it has dual functionality.
“The cashless system is secure, reliable and intuitive. Centralised administrative processes and no more cash counting has been hugely beneficial to us. WisePay are responsive and helpful; I would highly recommend their services. They gave us comprehensive on-site training and they are always hands-on to offer their knowledge and expertise whenever we need it.”
St Francis have just moved to WisePay’s Fund Manager Service. This manages expenditure as well as income and provides detailed balances of all money spent and all money received for a cost centre, such as a trip. It also provides easy reconciliation, end of month reporting and full audit trails so the staff always have the correct information at their fingertips.
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