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Paying for secondary school meals

Most secondary schools in South Tyneside operate cashless biometric fingerprint recognition payment systems for school lunches. 

Pupils and staff are invited to have their fingerprint recorded on a computer system so that when they pay for their school lunch they simply press their finger against a special pad, cutting out the need to handle cash. The introduction of the biometric systems in schools has helped enormously to reduce queuing time at the school dining room.

Parents who do not wish their child to use the biometric system should let their school know. All pupils can access the dining facilities in school, regardless of whether they use the biometric system.

Which schools have a cashless system?

Cashless systems operate at:

  • St Joseph's RC Academy
  • Hebburn Comprehensive School
  • St Wilfrid's' RC College
  • Harton Technology College
  • Mortimer Community College
  • South Shields Community School
  • Jarrow School
  • Boldon School

Benefits of the cashless system

  • Parents can send a cheque, cutting out the need for cash and making sure that dinner money is used for that purpose
  • Individual reports on students' spending can be produced on request
  • There is no cash handled at any of the tills so the speed of service is increased and queues are reduced
  • The system is more hygienic than handling cash
  • Students eligible for free meals can be assured of anonymity
  • An 'upper spend limit' prevents all the money on a pupil's account being spent in one transaction. This will be set at £3, but may be higher or lower on request
  • Once loaded onto your account your cash is safe

Putting money onto your account

There are two ways of adding cash value to an account, which is then used to pay for school meals:

Paying with cash:

You can pay coins or notes into the Revaluation Units which are installed in the school as follows:

  1. If your school has a biometric system then scan your fingerprint and your name will appear on the screen
  2. If a swipe card system is in use swipe your card and your name will appear on the screen
  3. Load the coins and notes you wish to pay in and you will see your account increase on the screen
  4. Press the red button and your details will disappear ready for the next

Please note: The Revaluation Units will be operational between 8am and 1.45pm, but must not be used in lesson time.

Paying by cheque:

You can hand in your cheque made payable to South Tyneside Council to the school catering staff before school or at morning break.

Please place your cheque in an envelope with your name and tutor group marked on the front of the envelope and on the back of the cheque. If you need to check how much money is on your account at any time, just scan your fingerprint or swipe your card on the Revaluation Unit.

Paying for meals

  • At the checkout, simply scan your fingerprint or swipe your card
  • An assistant will record your purchases on a  special till which will then amend the balance of your account
  • You will be able to see the cost of your meal and the balance left on your account on the computer

Free meals

The system is exactly the same for students who are eligible for a free meal.

Every day the computer will credit £2.10, the current price of a two-course meal, on each pupil's account.

If a meal is not taken, the £2.10 is removed at the end of the day. (The free meal entitlement is only available at lunchtime).

Pupils eligible for free school meals can put extra value onto their accounts by cash or cheque if they wish to buy items above the value of £2.10 If the cash is not spent it will remain on the pupil's account.


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