Epsom Primary School, Surrey
Unsure if Online Payments would truly work, this school were very surprised!
Epsom Primary School is a thriving multi-cultural school with over 600 pupils from 400 families. It is unique in offering both 2 yr-old and nursery provision. This, in addition to a lengthy list of morning and after school clubs, means they cater well for working parents, something that not all schools in the area can offer.
Whilst "Being a First Choice School" is the school's clear vision and provides the heading for their website and prospectus, Tracey Blandford, Epsom Primary School's Communications and Marketing Manager, says it's not enough to simply write it. They have to give parents a clear reason to put the school as their first choice over other local schools. One way to achieve this is by offering services such as online payments to parents, which indicates that the school is moving with the times.
Wendy Wilkinson, Finance Administrator, also felt it was paramount that the school implemented a solution that would ease the burden on the school office due to the expanding school and the increased numbers of activities to be paid for.
Increasingly, the school finds parents are accessing the internet through mobile only, so it was vital for the school to be able to offer a mobile option. The Tucasi software now means parents can easily create their Online Account, which is accessible via a traditional browser, phone or tablet.
With English commonly a second language for a number of parents, it was also essential that the online payment system was easy to read and clear to navigate. With just one click, the Tucasi software enables parents to view visual tips and help onscreen, including a short video, which Wendy said is perfect for parents for whom English is their additional language.
Despite some staff's initial concerns that an Online Payment Solution may not suit their catchment area, Wendy reports that over 50% of parents have registered for an online account and are making regular payments by credit or debit card. This has passed their expectations, especially considering that a significant number of the parents are newly arrived immigrants without access to a bank account.
The ability to extend Online Payment facilities to children not held on their school's Management Information System has allowed the school to take payments for their 2 year-olds' Extended Day provision. This means they will be able to take payments for "just about everything", helping online payments become a habit as the child moves up through the school.
The school has a number of 'Pupil Premium Parents' who regularly use the online account to check their child's meal history, view attended sessions to a club or check trip dates even though they may have nothing to pay for. Not only is this of real benefit to the parents but it reduces the number of queries that have to be dealt with.
Previously, the issue of insurance limits for cash/cheques held in the safe was a real headache. Due to the number of activities needing to be paid for, the school would reach their insurance limits very quickly. As a result of the new software, cash and cheque payments have reduced to such a level that the insurance limit is never compromised and Wendy can immediately see on screen the status of any 'on hand' funds.
Satisfied schools and parents
So, would they do it all again? Wendy says an enthusiastic "absolutely!", adding "I can't think of a single negative in our whole experience and we've had nothing but positive reactions from parents!"
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