Westbourne Academy is part of the family of Academy Transformation Trust academies.

Our mission is to transform learning, aspirations and opportunities for all our pupils, and the communities in which they live.

We believe that every child matters and deserves a first class education. We believe everyone has hidden potential to be uncovered and nurtured.

Our extensive family of primary and secondary academies are based in the Midlands, East of England and South East.

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Westbourne Food Hall

Cashless Catering and Biometrics

The construction of the new Westbourne Food Hall and the entire new catering concept  in 2013 finally gave us the opportunity to introduce cashless catering to Westbourne, something which many schools have benefited from for a number of years.Westbourne Food Hall logo

Each student (and staff member) have an account which they use to pay for their food/drinks, and they are able to pay into this account either in cash, by cheque or online (via a Debit/credit card). When they buy their food/drink, the cost is deducted from their account, reducing queuing and speeding up service.

At the till they simply enter their pin number, which they are given during their induction.

We also introduced a biometric ID system, which means that students and staff do not need to show a card or remember their pin number; once registered they just press their finger to a reader by the till, the cashier then confirms their identity and the transaction is completed.

During the initial registration process, the software captures a digital signature of the person's fingertip, which is then broken down into data points (similar to reference points on a map).  The Cashless Catering software then converts these into an alpha-numeric string  which is then securely stored on our own school server. 
Nobody has access to this information and the stored data points can only be viewed as a meaningless string of numbers and letters. Westbourne Academy can assure parents this software is very secure. 

Benefits of a cashless and biometric system

  • Increases the privacy of free school meal entitled students (and parents can top up the account of FSM-entitled students for the purchase of snacks or drinks)
  • Because money is loaded onto an electronic account, parents can be sure it is not being spent on sweets etc
  • Removes many of the associated issues found when using cash in schools (e.g. theft and bullying)
  • Numerous reports can be produced allowing parents to know exactly what their son/daughter has been eating and at what cost
  • The system has the added benefit of speeding up the lunch time queues which will mean students spend less time queuing
  • Parents have the option to limit their son/daughter’s daily spend
  • There are no cards and PIN numbers to be lost or forgotten
  • Negates the need for charges for replacement cards
  • Students don't have to worry about loosing or damaging a card
  • The same system will provide quick and easy access to our printing system (and other services can easily be added in the future)


Data protection and consent

We will only register and store students biometric data with the explicit consent of their parent/guardian.  

Biometric consent forms are issued to all students as part of the induction process - you can also download the consent form here

Parents, students and staff have the opportunity to ask any questions and this information is available both in written form and here online.

We would encourage all parents to provide consent, as we can see the benefits to students, parents and the academy. For any students who's parents who do not provide consent (or for students who refuse), we provide a pin number, as an alternative identification method.

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 came into effect in September 2013 and this placed additional requirements on schools using automated biometric recognition systems, or planning to install them, to make arrangements to notify parents and obtain their consent.

We will follow the latest Department for Education Guidance (including that in relation to The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and The Data Protection Act 1998).

Therefore, we confirm that:

  1. We agree to treat the data collected with appropriate care and must comply with the data protection principles, as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998.
  2. We will comply with the additional requirements in sections 26 to 28 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (see Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 below).
  3. We will ensure that each parent of a student is notified of the school’s intention to use the student’s biometric data (see 1 below) as part of an automated biometric recognition system.
  4. We will ensure that written consent of at least one parent is obtained before the data is taken from the student and used (i.e. ‘processed’ – see 3 below).  In no circumstances will we process a student’s biometric data without written consent.
  5. We will not process the biometric data of a student where:
              a) the student (whether verbally or non-verbally) objects or refuses to participate in the processing of their biometric data;
              b) no parent has consented in writing to the processing; or
              c)  a parent has objected in writing to such processing, even if another parent has given written consent.
  6. We will provide reasonable alternative means of accessing services for those students who will not be using an automated biometric recognition system.     


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Q - What is a Cashless System?

A - Cashless simply means that at the service point (i.e. the till) customers don't use money, instead they prove their identity and the value of the purchase is taken from their 'account'. This means that service is faster, and also allows for quick and easy (and transparent) processing of Free School Meals

Q - What does biometric mean?

A - Biometric is simply a method of identifying an individual person.  We will be using an algorithm based scan, which reads around 120 points on the finger, which are converted ito a string of random numbers.  It is not a fingerprint in any way, shape or form and cannot be used to create a fingerprint.


Q - How does the system work?

A - Once the student or teacher has registered the data on the system it is stored on our own secure server (and only we have access to it). When the customer gets to the till them place their finger on the reader, this confims their identity, and the system looks up their account details (ensuring they have sufficient funds on their account or if they are entitled to free school meals) and allows them to make the purchase.  


Q - How do they register?

A - We will only register a student on the system once we have obtained parental/guardian consent. Once we have this the student simply places they finger against the finger reader. It takes just a few seconds.


Q - How do we add funds to the account?

A - You can pay online - you would log in to ParentPay using the username/password we will give you, and then you can add funds to the account using your debit or credit card. You can do this at any time - weekly, monthly, payday ... its up to you. There is a minumum on-line top-up amount of £5.

You can add money in cash or by debit card via PayPoint at local stores such as the Coop. To use PayPoint you will need to request a PayPoint card with a unique barcode for your child's food account from the school.

Q - Can I stop my child spending it all in one day?

A - Yes - there is a default daily spend limit of £5 applied at the till. If you wish to amend this you (as parent/carer) must send a written and signed request to Mrs Hanson in the Data Team office – changes can take up to 48 hours to take effect.


Q - What happens to the balance in my child's when they leave Westbourne?

A - We will refund any balances over £5 if requested.  Alternatively the balance can be transferred to another sibling's account. Balances under £5 will be retained by the school.

Q - How does my child register?

A - We will only register a student on the system once we have obtained parental/carer consent. Once we have this, the student simply places they finger against the finger reader at Student Services. It takes just a few seconds.  Students transferring to high school in Year 7 will have an opportunity to register for their cashless catering account on the first day they start at the academy.