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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
School dinners paid for online
Parent using the online payment system
Parents can log on and pay from the comfort of their home
Children will soon have no excuse not to eat their school dinners as parents get the option to pay online.

In a bid to put an end to lost or forgotten dinner money Surrey County Council has been piloting an online payment scheme.

It has met with the approval of schools and parents who find it quicker and safer.

The council plans to extend the scheme to all nursery, infant and primary schools in the county.

Exceeding expectations

It's a quicker and more efficient way to collect the money
Fiona Windsor, school administration officer
"I think it is a great idea because it's an easier way to pay and I don't have to worry about the money getting lost," said Sarah Culhane, one of the parents who has already used the system.

Six schools have been testing the scheme, which requires parents to log on to the Surrey County Council website, type in a code number supplied by the school and enter their credit or debit card details.

"We were very pleased with the number of parents who participated in the pilot. In fact it exceeded our expectations," said Liz Hill, the project co-ordinator.

30% of all participating parents chose to pay online with half of the parents in one school using the website facility.

Parents generally pay on a half-termly basis with any missed meals credited to them.

"It's a quicker and more efficient way to collect the money," said Fiona Windsor, school administration officer at St Giles Infant School in Ashtead.

"It saves me time and the parents like it because it's safer," she added.

The council hopes to offer the online payment at secondary schools soon.

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