BETT 2015 - Contact Group launches new websites and apps to help schools manage payments from parents, communicate with parents more efficiently and reduce administration costs

BETT 2014 Finalist1, Contact Group (stand A250), is launching a new range of payment and communications solutions designed to help schools interact with parents, operate more efficiently and significantly reduce administrative costs. Making its debut at BETT 2015 is MoneyPiggy, a new online payment solution designed to help schools side step the costs associated with having a merchant account, benefit from fixed rather than variable transaction costs and remove the need for permission slips for school trips. In addition it dramatically reduces administrative time spent managing payments from parents for items such as trips, clubs and dinner money. Also featured will be the new version of Call Parents, its anytime, anywhere messaging solution which will link with Contact Group’s OurSchoolsApp  for parents -  an app designed to ‘push’ low-cost notifications regarding news, calendar events and school contact information to their smartphones.

MoneyPiggy – online payment solution

New from Contact Group is Money Piggy, a low cost solution that enables schools to take online credit and debit card payments efficiently from parents for trips, activities, clubs and dinner money.

Dramatically reducing administrative time spent managing payments, MoneyPiggy also helps schools on a budget in two ways - firstly it sidesteps the costs associated with having a merchant account; and secondly it substitutes traditional transaction charges, based on a percentage of parental spend, with a simple fixed-cost transaction fee.

Parents using MoneyPiggy are provided with an e-wallet which they top up online via credit or debit card and use to pay for resources and trips.

Schools requiring payment for activities or resources simply fill in the details on MoneyPiggy and then transfer the funds from the parental e-wallets.  Automated reminders via email and/or text message help to reduce the number of non or late payers, together with the time spent chasing them.  Pending payments and a full history of previous payments can be viewed by both the school and parent. Automatic alerts are sent to those parents whose e-wallets require topping up so they can continue to pay for items. Schools can also use MoneyPiggy to handle credit or debit card payments made over the phone.

In addition, MoneyPiggy removes the needs for permission slips for school trips by making it possible for parents to give permission and pay for the trip in one simple transaction.

A wide range of reports can be printed documenting which parents have given the school permission, who has paid, who is due to pay, who is overdue and also payments made by cash or credit card.

MoneyPiggy is PCI-DSS Level 1 compliant and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).For more information visit   

Call Parents – new online version with multi login, anytime, anywhere access

Schools can now send messages to parents anytime, anywhere using the new online version of Call Parents from Contact Group.  This new version allows multiple logins, meaning that a number of users in a school can access the system from a PC, laptop or a tablet to send messages, whilst ensuring that the school administrator can see who has sent what and when. In addition, it now only requires a single software installation to link to the school’s Management Information System (MIS) instead of previous multiple installations, saving time for the school’s IT person.

An important tool guaranteed to improve school-home communications, Call Parents allows staff to send emails or to text mobiles or landlines using the latest text-to-speech technology.  Responses from parents can be captured and viewed when appropriate, meaning that administrative staff can work without interruption.

Message groups for parents, teachers and students can also be readily created, as can usage reports. Message templates further simplify and speed up the process. Schools that have a comprehensive list of parental email addresses can send letters as attachments and now get delivery receipts from those emails giving them the knowledge that that all important letter home has been received by parents.  An optional inbound messaging feature can be added to allow parents to report illness or the absence of students via text message, 24/7.

Call Parents dynamically integrates with a school's existing Management Information System (MIS) and takes data, including any changes to email addresses and telephone numbers directly from the MIS, so schools need only maintain one database. 

OurSchoolsApp – school-home communications app offers low-cost ‘push’ notifications

OurSchoolsApp which will link with Call Parents, offers schools a simple and cost effective way to manage information and keep in touch 24/7 with parents and carers.  It works by ‘pushing’ information and updates directly to the parent/carer’s smartphones so that at any one time they are fully informed regarding the latest notifications, changes to the agenda, etc.  Because information is ‘pushed’ to parents/carers (rather than ‘pulled’ from a schools website), schools can be confident that all parties are completely in the picture.  Please see demo

OurSchoolsApp offers schools direct communication with parents via secure instant messaging and can be branded by the school, using their colours and logo. It is completely free for parents to download and access on their smartphone. 

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