Cashless dining systems means money can be paid into your child’s individual school meal account in advance. This removes the hassle of finding change each day, there’s less chance of money being lost and balance statements/descriptions of food purchases are also available on request.

Cashless dining is only available in some primary schools, whereas all secondary schools have these systems.

General cashless dining information

Is there a limit to how much money can be spent on the system at once?

Yes, a daily spend limit of £5 is set up for all students and no purchases above that limit can be made. However, you can request for the daily spending limit for your child to be changed if you’d prefer.

How do revaluation machines work?

They can be used to check the students account balance and to top up their balance with cash. Students scan their thumb/finger (or enter their pin) and the system displays their name and current balance. There’s a slot for coins or notes to be inserted and the increasing balance shows as it’s topped up. 

How does the system work for students entitled to free meals?

Paying for meals at the till point works the same for students with free school meal entitlement - they scan their fingerprint or give their pin number. All students entitled to free school meals will stay completely anonymous.

The amount allowed for free school meals is entered onto the students account daily by the software. Any under spend or missed dinner is identified by the system and won’t be added to the next day's balance.

In high schools the student can choose to spend the daily allowance amount at any point of the day (e.g. breakfast, break snacks, or the lunchtime meal). However the student will need to top up their account with extra cash to cover the cost of any purchases over the daily allowance, using the revaluation machine.

Can purchases of specific food types be prevented on the cashless dining system?

Yes, the system has the ability to prevent specific foods from being sold to an individual, throughout the day or at specific periods. If a student has a food allergy or is diabetic then purchases of a certain product or group of products can be prevented on the system, and the till operator is shown an on screen warning.

Can schools provide information about how the system is being used?

Yes, you can get reports from the system by contacting your schools kitchen (they can’t be sent in the post). The report can be for a specific day or between any two dates, and are dated/timed to the minute. You can get reports that show...

  • Every item of food sold to that account and the cost of each serving.
  • All individual payments made directly to the school by cheque or cash and manually entered onto the system.
  • Each payment made at the revaluation unit by the student, including the number of individual coins and their denomination.
  • Every transaction including all sales and credits itemised.

Data handling

Certain data is held on the system (your child's name, class, account balance and meal entitlement) to allow accurate operation. This data is handled under the guidelines of the data protection act and only used by parties directly associated with the school. Access to this information is controlled strictly by the school kitchen only.

Primary school cashless dining

Your child has an individual account, with a unique 4 digit pin number issued to you for when you use the revaluation machine (the machine that money can be paid onto in advance).

How do students get their meal?

Students go through the dining room class by class and the names/photos of the students for each class are shown to the system operator, who’ll select your child’s account.

Secondary school cashless dining (biometric system)

All secondary schools have cashless dining systems that use biometric technology (the system uses biometric fingerprints to identify each pupil). The non-evasive scans are taken of each child's finger or thumb prints during the common transfer day or week in July. 

How is the biometric recognition system used to get a meal?

Students scan their finger/thumb at the till or give the till operator their pin number, then their account is brought up. The student's photo, name, tutor group and current cash balance is displayed to the till operator. When the food items are entered into the system the individual costs and then the total balance are shown on the display.

Biometric registration

The biometric system only stores a section of a student’s fingerprint as a unique number and not as an image. Prints are taken using a non-evasive electronic scanner, which passes light over the finger or thumb. The same scanner is installed in the revaluation machines and at the tills.

The print is stored numerically on a central server - as a set of between 20 and 50 reference points, unique to the individual print. Each reference point is made up of three numbers which are the X and Y co-ordinates and an angle of curve. The stored co-ordinates only match part of the individuals print and it’s impossible for them to be used for the purpose of reconstructing a print.

This information is held on a secure database that is used exclusively for school meals and is accessed only by staff authorised to use the system.

Non biometric students

If a student would prefer not to use the biometric part of the system a pin number can be given on request instead.