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The Charter School

North Dulwich

School Meals

Cashless Catering 

What is a biometric cashless system? 

At the heart of the biometric system is a software program which recognises each individual customer, holds individual cash balances and records expenditure and cash received. It also records where and when money is spent and on what food. 

How are students and staff recognised by the system? 

All students and staff will be registered by biometric measurement and photograph. The biometric measurement takes a part image of some of the co-ordinates of the fingerprint. This information is then converted, encrypted and stores as a unique number. This data cannot be converted back into any image of a fingerprint, nor can it be used by any other source for identification purposes. 

What data will be held on the system? 

Certain data will be held on the system to enable accurate operation. This will include the student’s name, tutor group, photo, account balance, meal entitlement and the biometric number. Other than the biometric number, this data is already held on the School’s administrative system. All the data will be handled under the guidelines of the Data Protection Act. The data will only be utilised for the purposes of the cashless catering system and will be destroyed when the data is no longer relevant (such as when a student leaves the school). 

How is biometric system utilised to obtain food? 

A finger will be placed on a biometric scanner at a till. This will activate an individual’s account which will be displayed on screen for the catering operator, including name and current balance. The operator will then enter the selected food and drink into the system from an itemised keyboard, while the amount spent and the new balance will show on the display. 

How is money entered into the system? 

Money will be entered onto the system using the ParentPay secure online payment facility. 

How do parents use Parentpay? 

All parents are issued with a unique username and password to log into the Parentpay website – Parentpay accepts MasterCard and Visa credit cards and Maestro, Switch, Delta, Electron, Solo and Visa debit cards. Parents can view online the balance of their child’s catering account and a record of payments made. Parents have the flexibility to make payments online as regularly and as often as they wish and may find it convenient to top up their child’s account monthly or weekly.  

Is it safe to make payments on the internet? 

Yes. In fact, it’s as safe to pay online with Parentpay as it is to use a credit card in a shop or over the phone. Parentpay uses leading technology to process your credit/debit card transactions securely. All communication with the bank is encrypted (jumbled so no one else can read it). No credit/debit card details are stored in any part of the system. 

What about our personal information? 

Parentpay uses very limited amount of information about you and your child solely for the purpose of administering your account, information is not shared or given to any other organisations. Parentpay and the school operate under strict guidelines set out by the Data Protection Act 1998, which ensures the protection and care of personal information. 

What do I do if I am unable to log onto Parentpay? 

The Parentpay internet service should be reliable and available anytime. However, if parents experience any problems they should contact the school for advice. 

What if a parent needs to pay for their child’s meals in cash? 

The school has reval machine dotted around the school for change top ups. 

Do credits to my child’s account expire? 

No, all payments will remain on the account until debited for purchases made. 

Once I have topped up, how quick will my child’s account be credited? 

With ParentPay (online), if the top ups are carried out by 9am the students account will be credited in time for break and if top ups are carried out by 10.30am the students accounts will be credited in time for the lunchtime session. 

My child brings sandwiches to school; can my child purchase food on the odd occasion? 

All parents will be issued with usernames and passwords and will be able to access ParentPay at any time, or use any other payment method mentioned above in order to credit their child’s account. Therefore, students who bring sandwiches to school will also be able to make purchases using their card. It is advisable that, even if a student brings sandwiches, there is a small amount on their account. 


Free School Meals 

What about students entitled to a ‘free school meal’? 

The system works exactly the same for all students whether they pay or have a free school meal. All students have their own account to use in exactly the same way. 

The amount allocated for the free school meal (£2.25p) will be entered into the system by the software daily and will only be accessible at lunch break. This will cover a hot or cold meal deal.  

The system will then allow on a daily basis the required cash amount for each individual student to be allotted to their current cash balance. However, any under spend or missed dinner will be identified by the system and will not be added to the next day’s balance. 

The student can also add extra cash on to his or her balance to enable a greater daily spend on the school dinner than allocated by their free meal allowance. As this allowance can only be spent on a school dinner, extra cash added into the system can also be used for break time snacks. 

Children are entitled to receive free school meals if they or their parents or guardians receive any of the benefits below: 

  • Universal Credit, provided they have an annual net earned income not exceeding £7,400 (£616.67 per month) 
  • Income Support 
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by HMRC 
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit 

If you are unsure or would like to simply check your eligibility please click here to submit the Free School Meal Application Form or Call the school Finance team on 020 7346 6607 who will carry out a 5-minute check on your behalf.  

Your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Universal Credit rollout period. This will apply even if your earnings rise above the new threshold or if you stop being entitled to Universal Credit. The rollout period is currently scheduled to end in March 2022. Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, your child will keep their free school meal entitlement until the end of their current phase of education. 

Once your child is entitled to Free School Meals an additional funding called Pupil Premium is allocated from the Department for Education. The funding is paid directly to the school to improve the quality of disadvantaged children’s education. 

Your child will receive free school, A 30% discount on all extra-curricular activities and 50% discount on all curricular activities as well as substantial discount in music tuition each term until the end of their current phase of education.