Cashless Catering FAQs

How do I make payments for the meals?

There are three ways in which you can top up your child’s account:

  • By using ParentPay: – our online payment system. Payments are credited to your child’s account within 24 hours of you making the payment
  • By cheque: If you choose this method of payment please make the cheque payable to ‘The Brooksbank School’ and ensure your child’s name and form and the words ‘dinner money’ are clearly written on the reverse. This is essential so that we can allocate the payment to the correct student’s account. If a payment is to be shared between two students, please include both names and form groups plus the amount to be credited to each account. Send the cheque to the accounts office in school either by post or via your child. Your child’s account will be credited within 1 day of receipt of the cheque
  • If you cannot make online or cheque payments, students can bring cash into school to be paid into automatic cash revaluation terminals (located in school) which are set to accept £20, £10 and £5 Notes and £2, £1, 50p, 20p and 10p coins. Students will access their account by placing their thumb on the Revaluation Station scanner and then inserting coins or bank notes into the machine. As money is added it is shown on the display and when the transaction is completed the student will press a button to close their account. Students will be able to use these machines before school starts, during break and lunchtime.

How does the system work in the dining areas?

  • At the till point is a dermal scanner. When the student wishes to pay for the meal they simply place their thumb on the scanner and this will bring up that individual’s account. A display will show the terminal operator the student’s photo, name, tutor group and current cash balance held within the system. The selected food items will be entered into the system from the touch screen terminal while the product values and the total balance will show on the display. The catering assistant will prompt the student when the balance is running low so that they can make arrangements to top up their account.

How the data will be collected, used and stored?

  • We have chosen a biometric system because this is the most secure and efficient way of operating. The data we will be collecting in order to be able to provide this service consists of a scan of a section your child’s thumb. This is not a finger print – the scan takes a series of measurements of the lines on the thumb and turns this data into a series of numbers, which are stored. When your child places his/her thumb on the scanner the measurements are taken again and compared with the stored numerical record. The thumb scan will be stored numerically, as a set of between 20 and 50 reference points, unique to the individual’s print. Each reference point comprises of three numbers that are the X and Y co-ordinates and an angle of curve. The system does not store the image of the finger scanned. The stored co-ordinates are only of use in matching part of the individual’s scan and cannot be used for the purpose of reconstructing a thumb print. The numbers will be held in a secure SQL database on the server. Access to this database is given only by the school and then only to those who are required to administer the system. Certain other data will be held on the system to enable accurate operation. This will include your child’s name, class, photo, account balance and meal entitlement. This data will be handled under the guidelines of the latest Data Protection Act (including the General Data Protection Regulations) and only used by parties directly associated with the school. Access to this information is controlled strictly by the school only. When students leave, their records are deleted as soon as possible and certainly within one year.

What happens if there is no money in my child’s account and they want a lunch?

  • Catering accounts are not be permitted to go overdrawn and students with insufficient funds in their catering accounts will not be served food from the school’s cashless catering outlets. Please note that students will still be able use cash to purchase food from the outside kiosk and, for Post-16 students only, from the café in the Sixth Form Centre.
  • Please ensure that your child’s account contains enough money to purchase the food your child wants to buy each day. You can set up automatic reminders on the ParentPay system to ensure that you are made aware when your child’s ParentPay balance falls below a threshold that you can choose. If you have forgotten your ParentPay log-in details, please ring the school on 01422 374791 during office hours and ask Reception for assistance.

How can we check what credit there is on the account?

  • You can check your account via ParentPay or your child can check their account via the revaluation machine in school.

What is to stop my child using all the credit on the account in one day?

  • There is a daily spend limit set on the account – currently £5.00. If you wish us to reduce that limit for your child, please contact the finance office.

My child is entitled to free meals – how does it work?

  • Each day your child’s account is credited with the free meal allowance (currently £2.20) so that they can get their lunch (please note: if they do not use their allowance, it is NOT carried over to the next day). If you want to top-up their account with some extra cash, you can do so by using the methods described above.

How do I know what my child has eaten?

  • The simplest way is to check via your account on ParentPay. The details are downloaded on a daily basis. If you are not using ParentPay, please contact the Catering Manager at school who will be able to give you the information.

My child is allergic to certain items – can the system help with this?

  • We can programme the system so that the catering assistants can see if you have set any limits on what your child can have. They will then be able to guide your child towards a more suitable alternative. Please contact the Catering Manager if you wish any restrictions to be placed on your child’s account.

What happens to money left on the account at the end of term?

  • It would be advisable for some money to remain on the account for the start of the new term. Students can check their credit with the catering assistants and, as term draws to a close, they can start to manage their accounts accordingly. However, refunds can be made, if required.

My child has injured their thumb and cannot use it on the scanner

  • We can scan an alternative digit, if necessary

If you have any other questions regarding any aspect of the system, please contact the school.