Parents and carers of pupils at 19 local primary schools are now able to pay for school meals, trips and other expenses online for the first time, in line with our Council of the Future approach to digital.
All parents and carers have to do is register for a mygov.scot account, which can be used to sign in to other Council services including My Falkirk, and input their child’s unique pupil code supplied to them by the school.
Additional children can be added to the account, giving parents and carers a single place to monitor and top up the balance for all of their children using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC 24/7.
For pupils taking school meals, the secure online system lists the menu choices they make in school giving the account holder an overview of what that child has eaten.
It is anticipated the area's remaining 29 primary schools will come online by end of October.
Stuart Lennie, ICT Programme Manager, said: “Moving primary school payments online not only makes it more convenient for parents and carers it reduces cash handling in schools, as pupils are no longer bringing money to school that then needs to be collected, counted and banked by staff. In the first two days of the system going live at Wallacestone Primary School £1.5k was paid online reducing cash handling by 90% for that week. By the second week 98% of all payments were made online.”
The new system has also replaced the previous system used in all nine secondary stage schools in the area. Having the same system for both primary and secondary allows parents and carers with children at both stages to link their profiles to a single account, giving them a single place to see all school payments related to their children.
As well as making the Council more responsive to the needs of its citizens, the system offers meal selection online that aims to reduce the stigma often felt by those in receipt of benefits such as free school meals.
Stuart said: “Reducing the worry and stress often felt by a child in receipt of free school meals is paramount. By moving to online selection of meals, either from home or in class, each child is treated equally. Having online payments available 52 weeks a year also allows parents to spread the cost over the summer months, which was something we couldn’t previously offer.”
Sally Buchanan, Fairer Falkirk Manager, said: “Earlier this year, as part of the refresh of the poverty strategy, Falkirk Council Executive agreed it was every employee’s job to do their bit to help reduce the impact of poverty. By introducing the online payments system, Stuart and his colleagues have done just that – helping parents spread the cost of school expenses and ensuring no child feels singled out due to their circumstances.”
Pictured above: Selecting lunch on the whiteboard. The choice is then registered to the online payment account that his parent/carer has set up.