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Education / Cashless canteen on the horizon for Anderson High School

Photo: SIC

A CASHLESS catering option will soon be in place at the Anderson High School in Lerwick, with new till points accepting payments using the Young Scot National Entitlement Card (NEC).

The long-awaited new technology will be in place within the next two weeks, offering pupils an option to pay electronically for school meals in the canteen using their Young Scot NEC card, linked to a ParentPay account.

The identity of those pupils who receive free meals will be protected. The school will allocate a daily allowance to these pupils, which can be topped up by parents if they wish.

Lerwick Community Council in particular has pressed for a cashless system to be introduced at the school amid concern that those receiving free school meals were easily identified, increasing stigma. They used a card, while other pupils used cash.

ParentPay is an online payment system for schools, which allows parents and carers to make secure payments for various services, including school meals and trips.

Parents will be able to upload funds to their child’s ParentPay account and their child can then make payments at the new till points using their Young Scot NEC card.

Parents can make top-up payments at a time that is convenient to them, and monitor their child’s payment history through the ParentPay account.

The new system is said to offer several benefits, including reduced cash handling by the school and less need for pupils to carry cash.

It is expected that pupils will make increased use of the new cashless till points in the coming months, alongside the existing cash and contactless tills that will continue to be available for a short time.

The new cashless catering system will also soon be installed at Brae High School and Sandwick Junior High School.

Children’s services director Helen Budge said: “This technology offers several benefits for pupils, parents and for the school and I’m delighted that these new till points will soon be in place at Anderson and Brae High Schools and at Sandwick Junior High School.

“I’d encourage all parents to sign up for a ParentPay account if they haven’t already done so, and to check that their child has the latest version of the Young Scot NEC card which can be used with this new cashless system. More information has been sent to parents and carers.”

Responding to the development, Lerwick Community Council chairman Jim Anderson said it was “great news”.

“If only all school meal provision was free to all bairns, including their breakfast, then we wouldn’t need a payment system,” he said.