Student's platform makes school payments simple


In 2015, while most students were busy doing last-minute cramming for their HSC tests, Blake Garrett, a 17-year-old student at Chatswood High School, was launching an ICT business.

The motivation for School Bytes came about when the school floated the idea of emailing out its Statement of Accounts invoices. So, during the school holidays, Garrett sat down and created the software to turn this into a reality.

The school management platform is now saving valuable time for administrative staff in more than 326 NSW public schools, who can now make requesting payments from parents a smooth and seamless process.

Garrett said the core principle behind the platform is to assist schools with their digital transformation to becoming a paperless operation, and for parents to have access to up-to-date information at all times on any device.

“School Bytes provides senior executive staff, such as the principal, a quick summary of the various outstanding payments at their school and a history of all outbound communication with parents,” Garrett told The Educator.

Payment requests to parents are normally done by printing out statements of account and permission notes, folding them, and then mailing these home to parents.

“With School Bytes, these all get emailed directly to parents along with providing access to a personalised payment portal to view outstanding amounts & make online payments at any time,” Garrett said.

“Through the use of the Amazon Web Services [AWS] Cloud, we have been able to scale our parent portal to thousands of simultaneous users without needing to invest in specialist infrastructure.”

Vincent Quah, regional head for education, research, healthcare and non-profit APAC public sector at AWS, said organisations of all sizes, and across all industries, including educational institutions and startups, use AWS for its breadth and depth of services.

“These EdTech startups are pushing boundaries to improve the education environment for teachers, students, and parents alike,” Quah told The Educator.

“AWS EdStart helps entrepreneurs with great ideas to gain fast access to AWS services so they can build solutions quickly to solve real-world challenges.”

Quah said that as these EdTech companies grow, they can scale their businesses seamlessly and go global by utilising 20 AWS Regions with 61 ‘availability zones’ around the world to expand their solutions globally.

One school administrative manager from Turramurra High School said School Bytes has provided staff with a “user-friendly, DoE-compliant, time-saving, parent-friendly package”.

“I would highly endorse it to any school and would recommend it as an integral part in meeting the needs of their school community,” they said.

Dr Aimee Maxwell, psychologist and project manager on the Principal Health and Wellbeing Project from 2010 to 2019, said financial management is a contributing factor to worsening rates of principal health and wellbeing.

“Running a school is often similar to running a business, with administration, cash flow and budget pressures,” Dr Maxwell said.