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Cashless Schools Written by Julia Garvey, deputy director general, BESA

The surprising benefits of being a cashless school Cashless payment systems have moved on from simply being a means to pay for school food or trips, to becoming fully integrated data solutions at the heart of a school – with some surprising benefits. BESA’s Julia Garvey explains Cashless payment systems have been around for a while now, but they are no longer simply a means to pay for school trips or send in dinner money. Initially, they owed much of their popularity to the fact they made life easier for parents, reduced dinner-money related bullying incidents and reduced the paperwork burden on office staff. In recent years they have evolved, moving away from hardware-based systems to cloud-based software that enables schools to manage their income and catering provision in real time. With new technology and full data integration with the school management system, these systems offer schools more control over their resource allocation and staff time. They are also helping to address two significant safeguarding risks. Saving time and money Whilst a cashless payment system won’t increase the school budget, it can help schools

school and multi-academy trust level live to manage their budgets more effectively and payment tracking and full financial reporting, reduce waste, which in the current climate is enabling them to make informed decisions on welcomed by many Head Teachers. The latest everything from dining menu-choice based research* by the British Educational on meals purchased, to preferred Suppliers Association (BESA) payment methods based on shows that 92 per cent of parent behaviour, making schools are facing budget Whilst this an essential tool for the uncertainty for the next a cashle budget manager. academic year, with paymen ss many facing budget t s y stem won’t in Reduce the deficit or needing c r e a s e the school b risk of Covid to use their cash Cashless payment systems reserves to make help sch udget, it can oo have also played a big essential purchases. their bu ls to manage part in helping schools Whilst there are d gets adapt their operations some indications that effective more during the pandemic. per-pupil funding will ly Over the last 12 months, grow in 2021/22, schools dining processes have had to still need to maintain a change significantly. At the height of tight hold on their financial social distancing, keeping bubbles of pupils management. Cashless payment and staff separate was imperative but E systems offer the senior leadership team at Issue 26.3 | EDUCATION BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Education Business 26.3  

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