WITH just over three weeks to go before schools re-open, a Dublin mum of three has created an innovative fee collection system for schools — allowing parents to easily pay for an activity or event using text message, email or a dashboard if they don’t have a smartphone.
Mother to three primary school children — Ryan, 10, Freya, 8, and Jody, 5 — Denise O’Grady knows full well what it’s like for parents to be caught at the school gate without cash when your child is urgently looking for money for the school trip.
“You’ve just about managed to get them out the door — they’re dressed, have had breakfast, lunches are made, hair combed and they’re reasonably well presented, and then one of them is saying ‘I can’t go on the bus for the trip because you’ve forgotten the money’.”
Whether it’s money for the schoolbook rental scheme, activities like swimming or soccer, school trips, photos or fundraisers, being ready with the cash every time it’s asked for can be a tall order for many parents.
“I’ve been caught so many times. I’ve got final warnings when I hadn’t realised something needed to be paid or I thought my husband had done it,” says Denise, who is a former PE teacher.
Her Way2Pay fee collection system automates, audits and manages school payments, allowing for seamless payments. Initially working via email and SMS, an app has just been launched.
A decade ago, Denise started a company that provided a communications facility via SMS/text messaging for schools when messages needed to be relayed urgently to parents — notice of a match cancellation or school closure due to bad weather.
“Schools often asked us if there was anything we could do to take the cash out of school.
Insurance costs and security risk is higher in schools if there’s money on the premises.
No receptionist, administrator or teacher wants to sit beside a bunch of cash. School staff have to go to the bank with cash, which is time-consuming.”
Explaining Way2Pay, Denise says it’s one click on a smartphone app for parents to pay on their mobile phone.
It is available in almost 300 schools. The company has completed a successful fundraising round of €500k which will facilitate further expansion into the market and further afield.
* If friendly with parents of older children in your child’s school, check if they’ll sell you second- hand school coats/blazers — often in good condition because they aren’t worn much.
* Label items of your child’s uniform — you’re more likely to recover them if lost.
* Cover child’s books to keep in good condition to sell on next year.
* Buying copybooks and pens in bulk will be cheaper.
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