St Peter’s Community School is a Secondary Level school in Passage West, Cork. The school regularly takes fees from students for activities and supplies, from trips and clubs to textbooks, and until Spring 2018, school staff had been taking that money in cash.
Cash payments had always got the job done for St Peter’s but was causing inefficiencies compared with emerging digital approaches to payment acceptance. A security breach in Spring 2018 was the final straw that convinced the school to switch to Way2Pay’s digital income collection system for schools.
We spoke to Mary O’Leary, the clerical officer at St Peter’s Community School, to find out how Way2Pay has added efficiencies to St Peter’s’ financial administration and helped keep funds safe.
Until Spring 2018, St Peter’s Community School had always taken most of its payments from students in cash, covering school trips, activities, learning resources and other student expenses.
“They came up and handed the money through the hatch,” says Mary O’Leary, clerical officer. “The money then had to be counted, taken to the bank, lodged into the bank, so there was a lot of work involved.”
“It was time-consuming, especially when a lump sum was going into the bank.”
Not only was dealing mainly in cash inefficient for Mary O’Leary and her colleagues; it ultimately proved to be unsafe.
“We had a break-in, and there was €5.500 taken in cash,” says O’Leary “We couldn’t get it back because our insurance didn’t cover us.”
The main drivers for switching to Way2Pay were the need for:
“The break-in prompted us to migrate to digital payments. I came across the Way2Pay schools payment solution through BOI Payment Acceptance. We were impressed with the speed at which it was set up.” – Mary O’Leary, clerical officer, St Peter’s Community School
The cash and resources schools keep on-site can make them a target for burglars.
When St Peter’s Community School in Cork had €5.500 in student fees stolen in 2018, a significant hole was blown in the school’s finances. “We had to make do without that money because our insurance didn’t cover that eventuality,” says O’Leary, the school’s clerical officer.
Switching to Way2Pay has enabled St Peter’s to digitise around 80% of payments, with parents or students paying via a text message sent to their phones, rather than by cash. The amount of funds at risk in the event of another break-in would, therefore, be far lower.
A far more positive reason why St Peter’s implemented Way2Pay was the potential to make payments easier for parents to make and staff to process.
Mary O’Leary has been particularly impressed at the ease of setting up groups on Way2Pay, which simplifies the task of repeatedly collecting money for certain groups of students.
“It’s easy: within the application, you go to Actions, then create a group,” says O’Leary.
“You can also send text reminders to those who haven’t paid, send ad hoc texts requesting a certain amount, highlight certain people and put in your own wording to go with the payment link.”
O’Leary also singles out the Way2Pay homepage she and her colleagues see as a top feature. “The way it shows your bills and amounts paid per month is very useful,” she says.
“You can see December, January, February and so on at a glance, in a chart view. That’s a very good thing, as our accounts are done on a monthly basis.”
“People have been responsive to Way2Pay payments. One or two are a bit slow with putting in bank details, but we can send those people a reminder by text.”
– Mary O’Leary.
Switching to Way2Pay has helped St Peter’s Community School reduce the amount of student fee funds at risk of theft by 80%, by moving payments online and keeping cash off-site. Parents have responded well to making payments via SMS and payment links, and the school staff has benefited from Way2Pay’s payment reporting.
“I would recommend Way2Pay to peers at other schools,” says Mary O’Leary. “It’s easy to use, easy to set up – and my colleagues would be of the same opinion.”
“With Way2Pay you can see the money you’ve taken instantly. It has sped up payments, and to a degree it has helped with accounting too.”
“A lot of parents, especially the younger generation, have picked it up well, as they are used to using this sort of technology. About 80% are on board with it, and it has grown significantly over the twelve months we’ve been using it.” – Mary O’Leary