Cashless Catering

  What is cashless catering

Cashless catering allows meals to be served without the need to pay for them at the point of sale.  This speeds up the service and is also more hygienic, as it means catering staff don’t have to handle money as well as food.

  How does it work

Parents or students top up their account in advance – either by using an online payment system or, alternatively, in cash using top-up machines located in the academy.  Meals are then charged against that amount until it is used up.  Students identify themselves when they ‘buy’ their meals using a simple fingerprint reader.

  What are the advantages

For the academy, it means cutting down on the amount of cash which is handled in different places.  For parents, it avoids the need to be finding money every day and means they can be certain it is being used to buy school meals.  For students it means a faster service, with no identity cards to lose or PIN numbers to remember.

  What about free school meals

For students receiving free school meals, the account is topped up by the school, but otherwise there is no difference.  The system allows eligible students to receive their meals with the minimum of fuss, and without anyone else being aware that they are receiving free school meals.

  What if I still want to use cash

Students can still use cash to pay for meals, but they will need to do this in advance using one of the top-up machines in the academy – they will not be able to pay for meals in the dining room itself.

  How does the fingerprint system work

We need permission to take each student’s fingerprint and keep this information in a ‘biometric store’.  This has worked very well in our library previously and has other uses within the academy, such as allowing students to do copying and printing.

  What is Biometrics

Biometrics simply means identifying people by their physical features – most often by the use of fingerprints, or by face or eye recognition.  A machine with a biometric reader can tell who you are by checking these features against the information it already holds.

  Why use Biometric information in schools

Schools are busy places and we need to be able to serve students quickly and effectively.  We’ve identified three specific areas where using a fingerprint system would be helpful:

  • in our library, where we’ve already used such a system for several years – however, changes in the law mean we need to ask you again to agree to this
  • for our catering service where we need to serve a large number of students in a short space of time, as well as checking who is entitled to free school meals
  • for our student IT services where students will be able to retrieve their documents from a variety of locations, for example, by using the fingerprint reader

  How is the data stored

The system doesn’t keep actual copies of fingerprints.  Each fingerprint is turned into computer code which is then matched with the correct student each time he or she uses a fingerprint reader.  This computer code is stored securely within the academy and is not made available to anyone else.

  What should I do next

Because of a new law called the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, we need to ask for your consent (agreement) to take and use your child’s fingerprint information – even if you have agreed to this before, for example for use in the library.  Once we have your agreement, this will allow your child to use the library systems, cashless catering and printing and copying services until they leave the academy.

  Any questions

If you have any questions or concerns about the use of Biometrics, we would be happy to answer them.  Please contact our Business Manager, Steve Smith, on (01922) 720741 extension 109 or by email at