Essex school introduces new hi-tech cashless catering system

A REVOLUTIONARY cashless catering service is being installed into the canteen of a Saffron Walden school, writes Lauren Capon, 15.

The new service at County High School, in Audley Road, is run by a computer and controlled by Impact Software and works through a system of payments to an online account via a company called WisePay.

Each student and teacher will have their own account, which can be credited with any amount of money at any time.

In preparation to the launch of the system, which goes live on November 2, a biometric fingerprint image will be taken of all students and teachers within the school, and the information will then be turned into a digital signature.

Each individual will have a unique fingerprint and the image is then discarded, leaving only an Alpha Numeric number which cannot be traced back into the image of the fingerprint, which will protect each person’s security.

Meals are then bought from the account by means of a fingerprint recognition, registered using a scanner. This links the system to recognise each individual’s user account, records the cash spent, and hold details about the food purchased, when the food was bought and which time of day the food was bought.

As opposed to the old hassle of dinner money, the cashless system will provide a much more convenient method of paying for school meals and speed up queuing times in the canteen thanks to the speedy service.

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The students are fairly optimistic about the system.

“I think it will be hard to get used to at first, but eventually we’ll get used to it”, says a student in Year 11.

“It’s good as you don’t have to worry about forgetting money”, adds another student, who is a regular user of the canteen.

Saffron Walden County High is following in the footsteps of a large number of other schools in Essex who have been running the system since September last year.

The school’s business manager Hilary Goldsmith said: “Our desire is to continue to provide and improve on the quality of the school meal service at [the] school.”

The school insists the new system is completely safe and has been embraced by the majority of parents, although it has included an opt out form – but, so far, only eight parents out of the 2000-strong student body have chosen to do so.

Visit for more information on biometrics and cashless catering in Essex schools.

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