Scotland Excel

Case Study: Supporting the Digital Future of Scotland’s Schools

Online payments framework supports schools to embrace the digital age.

Online payments framework

The Scotland Excel Online School Payments framework was developed in collaboration with local authorities to support an ongoing project to introduce an online services for parents and schools across Scotland.

The project, initiated by the Improvement Service and now within the remit of the Local Government ICT Strategy Board, was the first national IT collaboration framework undertaken by Scotland Excel. It is designed to support schools across the country, which collect an income of c£120m each year.

With a variety of purchases like school meals, trips, uniforms and tuition fees taken by schools each day, only a fraction of the transactions are available online. In a bid to extend online availability and help schools embrace the latest payment technology, Scotland Excel developed the IT focused framework. The framework enables councils to improve service delivery and help schools make savings and operational efficiencies from processing online transactions.

The framework also supports the Scottish Government’s vision as set out in the Scotland’s Digital Future – A Strategy for Scotland report, which aims to ensure Scotland is best placed to maximise the opportunities offered by the digital age. It also wants service providers to adopt an approach of ‘Digital First’, i.e. delivering online everything that can be delivered online.

Councils are aiming to achieve a channel shift in the delivery of their public services. The desired outcome is that service-users make the departure from interacting with local authority personnel for all of their transactions and service needs. Instead, they would take a self-service approach and access the full range of public services online. The Online School Payments framework allows them to take a step towards this vision.

Delivering convenience and ease of payments for parents is arguably the biggest benefit of the online payment process. Indeed, parents can also provide consent for their children at the point of payment, marking an effective departure from the traditional and sometimes unreliable approach of consent forms being brought home in pupils’ school bags.

An added benefit is the reduced administration cost associated with processing cash and cheque transactions, estimated to be around three times the cost of processing online transactions.

The Online School Payments framework began in November 2014. It will run for a duration of 24 months only to provide flexibility that will take account of any changes in the marketplace and meet emerging council requirements. It is serviced by three SME suppliers, who will offer local apprenticeships and job seeker employment opportunities as part of their community benefit commitments.