Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in Birmingham provides further education courses to some 1,600 young people aged 16-18. A small number of courses combine classroom based learning with practical experience gained through work placements at local businesses.
For several years the college was able to comply with government legislation for free meals provision through its on-site canteen. In September 2014, the government extended the legislation, requiring FE colleges to also provide a free meal to eligible students whilst they were off-site, on work placement.
The college had to find a practical way of administering the off-site free meals scheme within the rules set down by the government. The allowance must be given to the student through electronic credit or vouchers. These can be redeemed off-site in food outlets. The college ruled out the use of electronic payment cards as students would be purchasing their lunch from a variety of stores.
The solution had to be capable of being delivered to students on work placement, without significantly increasing the workload of the Administration Assistant (Student Finance). The allowance cannot be reimbursed. It must be given upfront, ahead of the placement.
The college concluded they would need to administer a paper based voucher scheme. The Luncheon Vouchers scheme designed specifically for schools by Edenred met the challenge.
The ordering process is simple. Prior to the start of each block of work placements the college completes an electronic order form provided by Edenred, stating how many vouchers they require, by when and to what value. Edenred process the order and despatch the vouchers by post. The vouchers are generally received by JCC within the week the order is placed.
On receipt of the vouchers the Administration Assistant (Student Finance) places the relevant allowance into an envelope for each student. These envelopes are passed to the Work Related Team who in turn places them in the student’s information pack. Each student receives their pack prior to starting the work placement and signs a form to confirm receipt.
The students can spend their vouchers in a number of outlets that are detailed on the vouchers.
JCC can show to external auditors that their free school meal provision complies with government legislation, without significantly increasing the workload of the Administration Assistant (Student Finance).
The Administration Assistant (Student Finance) responsible for administering the scheme said:
“I am delighted with how easy the scheme is to run. I was initially concerned about the impact it would have on our workload. In fact, it only adds about half a day extra work. The ordering process is simple and straightforward and delivery is swift.”