Parents don’t need cash to pay for Falkirk Council school meals

Scrabbling about for change on a Monday morning to pay for school dinners will soon be a thing of the past as all of Falkirk’s schools have introduced a new electronic payment system.

The new iPay system will allow parents to pay for everything from school meals to school trips – although those who prefer to use cash can still do so.

The system has been piloted in several schools since August but has now been rolled out across the authority – with parents paying in more than £500,000 since it was introduced.

Members of the education, children and young people committee heard that the new system will make it much easier for parents to keep track of paying for their children’s meals.

Education department’s Stuart Lennie told members that the uptake had been very successful.

“On average we’re seeing a 70 per cent reduction in the amount of cash that’s being taken to the bank,” said Mr Lennie.

Not only will it mean parents can help their children order lunches in advance, it also means they can see exactly what their children have been eating every day.

Parents will have one login for all their children, no matter if they are at different schools.

Councillors from all parties were impressed with the new system and in particular with the fact that it will mean there is no difference in how children who get free school meals are treated.

It also means parents can choose when to pay to suit their budget, something that has often been requested by parent councils.

Asked what the staffing implications were, Gary Greenhorn, head of educational planning and resources, said: “There will be less cash handling and less frequency of trips to the bank, which is important given the number of bank closures there have been, which means it can be quite a distance to get to a bank.

“We see it as freeing staff up and allowing them to focus on the pupils. We’re at the very start of this so it’s something to be talking to teachers about.

“This is transformational and it’s putting Falkirk at the forefront of ICT development. Most importantly, it’s putting parents in control and freeing up resources in schools.”