Cashless Catering FAQ

Cashless Catering System Information

Students do not need to carry cash to buy food, instead they use thumbprint scanners or PIN codes (using money credited to their account). Thumbprint recognition is also used for book loans in the LRC (Library).  It is a legal requirement that we have parents’ written permission to use this technology so, as part of the induction process, you will be given a consent form and you should indicate whether you wish your child to have their thumbs scanned or not.  If students are not scanned they use a PIN code instead, which is then checked against their name and photograph.

ParentPay online payments 

In order to allow you to easily pay money into a student’s account, for food, educational visits or other items, we use ParentPay.  This is an online system that allows you to credit students’ accounts in much the same way as you might top-up a mobile phone or buy a book on Amazon.  Many parents will already be used to using this system, or something similar, at Primary School.

As a parent you will have a secure online account, activated using a unique username and password (you will be prompted to change these, and to keep them safe and secure).  If you have more than one child at Wilmslow High or another school that uses the same system, you can merge their accounts to create one login for all your children.  This allows you to check how much credit students have in their account and top it up from home.  You will also be able to see information about how your child is spending the money you have credited to their account. More information is available at

Frequently Asked Questions:

My child did not get their lunch today: why was this allowed to happen?

We will never knowingly send a child away without lunch, and service in the canteen continues until 1.15pm or, in the event of some unforeseen circumstance delaying service, until everyone has been served.  Occasionally a student has a problem with their account that prevents them from paying, but we have a system for lending money to children who find themselves in this position: please read our Help leaflet.  If a child has not been able to get food for whatever reason, they should speak to a member of the Student Services team on duty in High Options, explaining that they have not had their lunch: no one should go away hungry.

My child will be having packed lunches: do I need this information?

It is still a good idea to set up a ParentPay account, even if you do not use it immediately.  If you need to give your child credit at short notice (e.g. because they have forgotten their lunch) it would then be quick and easy to do.  You may want to credit a few pounds to their account for emergencies.  We need written consent to scan your child’s thumbs for our biometric system, whether they plan to use High Options or not, as the same system is used in the LRC (Library).

What does “biometric” mean?

Biometric recognition is simply a method of identifying an individual by taking some measurements. We use an algorithm-based scan, which reads between 50 & 130 points on the finger/thumb. It is not a thumbprint and is of use only in the cashless system. The scanned points are transformed into a number using a hardware‐based algorithm. The hardware also applies 256 bit AES encryption to the data, so it is not possible to reconstruct biometric information from the code stored in the computer.

How does a Biometric System work?

The information of a biometrically registered student or staff member is stored on a secure computer server within school, which only we and our provider, Nationwide Retail Systems Ltd, can access.  Once an account is credited the student or staff member can then purchase items by placing their finger/thumb on the payment terminal.

How does my child register on the Biometric System?

Students are registered on their first day at school. Your child will attend a session in High Options and will be required to place their finger/thumb on a biometric sensor twice, which takes a few seconds. If you have chosen to ‘opt out’ of this procedure, your child will be given a 4 digit PIN Code.

What methods of payment can be used to credit an account?

Any amount can be credited to an account by any of the following methods:

  1. Online Payments: To make an online payment please go to  You will receive your ParentPay details before the Year 6 meeting with tutors in July.
  2. PayPoint: You can top up your child’s account at local PayPoint stores. Payments done in this way take up to 48 hours to be credited to the account. You can find local stores by clicking here.  In order to use this system you will need a bar-coded letter which is personalised to each child: please contact us to request this.
  3. Cash at the revaluation machine: A “revaluation” (cash-loading) machine is located in High Options. Cash can be used to top up accounts by the student placing their finger/thumb on the sensor (or using their PIN Code) and then inserting cash – from £20 notes to 5p coins. However, we discourage students from using this machine because we would rather they did not bring cash to school.  By using the online payment method you can monitor their balance, see how much they spend, what they buy, and know that they are not spending their dinner money on sweets or other items on the way to school.

How can I check the credit on an account?

This can be done by students at the cash-loading machine in High Options, although queues tend to build up at lunchtime. The best way to check balances is on the app or website, where you can also set up a low balance reminder so that your child never runs out of money.

Can I change the daily ‘spend limit’?

Yes – The daily ‘spend limit’ has a default of £7.50 but this may be changed by written request to the Catering Supervisor at High Options, or by contacting Student Services.

What happens if my child’s account is not in credit?

Between 12.25pm and 1.00pm students should see Mr Bowden who will be on duty in the area between Printworks and High Options.  He has cash to lend to students who don’t have enough money for lunch. If Mr Bowden is not on duty then one of the Heads of House or Student Managers in High Options will have money instead – please tell your child to ask, there is no need for anyone to go hungry.

Why can’t I just go overdrawn on my account?

We want to be aware when people need to borrow money rather than letting it happen.  We would also prefer that the school lends money rather than our catering staff, we also want Student Services staff to be able to have a chat with you so that they can check things are OK.

Although I have money in my account, the till will not let my child buy anything – what has gone wrong?

This is probably because you have set a daily limit on your account.  Although it is a daily limit the day runs from 1.30pm one day to the same time the next day.  So, if your child spends £1 at 15:00 on Monday, they are using their Tuesday allowance and will have £1 less to spend on Tuesday.  If this means they haven’t been able to buy lunch, they should talk to one of the Heads of House or Student Managers in High Options and they will try to help.

I don’t know how much money I’ve spent or how much I have got left

The catering staff have been asked to tell students at the till what they have spent and to warn them if their balance is running low, but if they forget students can ask.  Students can also use the revaluation machine to check their balance, but the best way is for you to check on your ParentPay account.  If you don’t have your account details, please email

My child’s thumb scan doesn’t work on the revaluation machine or the tills

We can re-scan thumbs, but if this still doesn’t work we can give them a pin number.  Students should talk to Mrs Birch or Mrs Simoen (General Office) or ask at Student Services Reception.

How can I get an alert message to avoid running out of money in my account?

Within ParentPay go to “View Communications” on the left and then click “Change alert settings” to set up an e-mail or text alert for when your account balance falls below a certain amount.

I have topped up my account but there’s still no money showing there when my child goes to the till – what has happened?

Although money may be credited in the ParentPay account, it does not come through immediately to the till system.  If there is a problem, students should ask Mr Bowden and he will lend cash.  Parents should check that their payment has gone through successfully, and if there is still a problem they can email school to let us know.

How much is the free school meal allowance?

The free meal allowance is £2.35 per day.

Where has all my child’s Free School Meal allowance gone?

Although it is a daily limit the day runs from about 1.30pm on one day to the same time the next day, so if your child spends £1 at 15:00 on a Monday afternoon, this uses some of the Tuesday allowance, so they will have £1 less to spend on Tuesday.  Students should try not to spend too much after school. If this means you have not been able to get any lunch, please ask them to talk to one of the Heads of House or Student Managers in High Options and they will try to help.

How do ‘free meal’ entitlements work?

Students with free meal entitlements remain anonymous at all times and all student accounts are accessed in the same way, regardless whether paid for or not. Any money not used from the daily free meal allocation will not be carried over to the next day.

Can anyone else use my child’s account?

Due to the extensive security on biometric templates no-one will be able to access your child’s account if thumbprint scanning is used. As a secondary precaution a photo image is attached to each account. If your child is using a 4 digit PIN Code, and someone else attempts to use it, the photograph shown on the till should alert the operator and prevent a fraudulent sale taking place.  Occasionally we get a query from a parent to ask why two lunches have been taken on the same day – this is usually because students have helped out a friend by buying their lunch for them: this is not something we encourage as we would rather lend students money ourselves.

Can I dictate my child’s dietary requirements?

The system will allow you to register any items that your child is not allowed due to dietary needs or religious beliefs. Any such items must be confirmed in writing by the parent/guardian to the Catering Supervisor in High Options

When can I log in to my ParentPay account?

Once you have received your activation letter from school you will be able to activate your account and start making payments. This is sent out in advance of the Year 6 parents’ meeting with Form Tutors in July.

Which cards can I use on ParentPay?

ParentPay accepts MasterCard and Visa credit cards, and Maestro, Switch, Delta, Electron, Solo and Visa debit cards.

Is it safe to make payments on the internet?

Yes. ParentPay uses leading technology to process card transactions securely. All communication with the bank is encrypted and neither ParentPay nor the school have access to your card details. The process is similar to a purchase on Amazon or a groceries order from a supermarket.

How can I check that it is secure?

Standard website addresses begin with http; the address for a secure site will always begin with https. You will also see a padlock at the top of the screen on our login page and after you have logged in; never enter your card details or personal data on any web page whose address does not start https.

I don’t have a home PC so how can I use ParentPay?

The ParentPay app works on smartphones and computers are available in the local library. We can provide access to a computer at school on request.   If this is presenting a problem for you, please get in touch with Mr Astley at school (

What personal information does ParentPay hold?

ParentPay holds limited information about you and your child, solely for the purpose of administering your account; however ParentPay does not use your personal information other than for supporting the school. We do not share or give information to any other organisations. We operate under strict guidelines set out by the Data Protection Act 1998. ParentPay will NEVER contact you by phone, email or mail and ask you to divulge confidential information like passwords or card numbers. If you are ever contacted by someone claiming to be from ParentPay, please contact ParentPay immediately on 0845 257 5540

Data protection information relating to the new till system:

Nationwide Retail Systems Ltd (NRS) is accredited with ISO27001 – Information Security Management System and is committed to ensuring that privacy is protected. Data will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement. NRS is registered as a data processor under the Data Protection Act (DPA) and operate at all times under the DPA Guidelines. Schools’ data will remain their responsibility and they remain fully in control of accessing, managing and updating all student data within the system. Schools and the local authority are operating as Data Controllers under the DPA. All NRS Staff that may have administrator access to schools data for support purposes are Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked. Information collected to implement a Cashless Catering system is listed here:• Admissions Number (“G number”) • Student’s name • Tutor group • Whether they are entitled to free school meals • Gender • Date of Birth • School Year • UPN* • Photograph** *Unique Pupil Number: a UPN is a number that identifies each learner in England uniquely ** The photograph is provided so that an image of the student can be shown to the till operator to prevent fraud: this is particularly important for those who have opted out of using thumb-prints Student information is held on a school server dedicated to the cashless catering system.