Our school canteen uses a cashless system at the tills. This allows for multiple payment options and speeds the flow of girls through the dining hall. It also allows free school meals to be claimed without other students being aware of this - FSM eligible students use the system in an identical manner to other students.
This cashless system is the only way to pay for items from the canteen at breakfast, recess and lunch.
How is food paid for?
Every student has an account with a balance of money in it. This account can be topped up with a debit or credit card online through MCAS or with cash in school (notes and coins).
When a girl arrives at the till with her food, she will identify herself with a ID number. The cost of the meal will be deducted from her account.
The fingerprint system is currently not in use in order to remain Covid compliant and all students have been issued with a PIN.
How does the fingerprint system work?
Both thumbprints will be taken in school on your daughter's first day with us. The system does not take an image of the thumbprint; instead it derives a pattern from a selection of unique points on the thumbprint and converts this pattern into an alphanumeric string. This string is then stored in a secure, encrypted database running on school equipment.
When your daughter presents her thumbprint at the till to purchase food, this alphanumeric string is generated by the reader and compared to the stored data. At no time is any image of a fingerprint ever stored for retrieval.
We register both thumbprints in case of an injury to either hand.
What if I opted out of the fingerprint system?
If you opted out of biometric registration, your daughter will be issued a 4 digit ID number instead. When purchasing food she can type this number into the till to identify herself. A photograph is displayed on screen to make sure ID numbers are not used by other students.
Unfortunately, numbers allocated cannot be changed in order to prevent clashes on the system.
What's the best way to top up an account?
The cashless catering system is closely integrated with our online payments system, MCAS. This system not only allows you to top up an account 24 hours a day but also to review any top ups made in school with cash. Details of your daughter's last ten purchases are listed here (MCAS, please note, however, that this facility is not available using the app.)
MCAS is the school's preferred top up method.
However cash can be brought into school and added to an account using the cash loader situated in Roberts Hall. This is an automatic machine accessible throughout the school day and accepts coins (5p-£2 denominations) and notes (£5, £10). Any money added on this cash loader is immediately added to your daughter's account. As noted above, details of cash top ups are listed on your MCAS account for your records.
How can an account's balance be checked?
Balances can be checked online at MCAS 24 hours a day. The VLE will also display this information once logged in. Your daughter can check her balance in school at the cash loader - even if she is not topping up with any money, she can identify herself with her fingerprint/ID code and it will display the account balance.
How do Free School Meals work?
One of the major benefits of the cashless system is that it allows Free School Meals to be claimed completely discreetly. Any girl claiming Free School Meals will use the system in exactly the same way as other students - even the till operator will not be aware that the money has come from a Free School Meal allowance.
Free School Meal accounts will have a daily allowance of £3.15. The first £3.15 spent in a day will be deducted from this allowance. It can be spent at any time during the day - breakfast, recess or lunch - but does not roll over to the next day.
Girls claiming Free School Meals can 'top up' their account the same as anyone else; this balance is used if your daughter spends over the £3.15 daily allowance.
With this new system we are hopeful that all students eligible for Free School Meals will apply for them. We are keen for your daughter to have a good meal every day and for you to take full advantage of the support available to you. Additionally, a lot of government funding (such as the Pupil Premium) is now tied to Free School Meal claims; a student who claims Free School Meals for only a single term allows us to claim additional funding for the remaining time that the student is with us.
Could my daughter spend all her allowance at once?
Accounts have a daily spend limit on them - currently £8.00 a day. Students will not be able to spend over this amount in a day. £8.00 comfortably allows a student to eat at breakfast, recess and lunch with drinks, and we believe it is a sensible amount.
However, if you would like this limit changed for your daughter, please contact the school with details and we can adjust on an individual basis.
My daughter has a specific dietary requirement. Can the cashless system monitor this?
Where we are aware of an allergy or religious belief, your daughter will be automatically prevented from purchasing items containing problematic ingredients. If you wish to make us aware of any such considerations, please contact the school in the usual manner.