Croydon has been recognised at the 2008 e-government national awards for its e-Pay Cashless Schools Project which will see dinner money collection across the local authority exceed £3.4 million during the 2008/2009 academic year through its online ParentPay service.

The awards are supported by prime minister Gordon Brown and intended to recognise organisations that use new and innovative technologies to deliver better public services. This year saw a record 588 nominations across 11 categories. The e-Pay Cashless Schools Project, dreamed up four years ago by catering manager Allyson Lloyd and ParentPay founder Lynne Taylor to create cashless schools, won its award in the "Local e-Government excellence: Take-up & usage growth" category.

John MellorLitcham High's John MellorStudents file casually to the two check-outs, staff enter their purchases on touch-screens, fingertips slide over biometric scanners, a photograph of the student's face pop up momentarily in the corner of the screens for visual confirmation... and lunch is served - without any cash changing hands. It's as simple as that.

The award-winning ParentPay service means fewer children carry money to school (parents and teachers can even top up accounts over the web) and children having free meals are no longer easily identified - so bullying and other anti-social behaviour is down. In addition, electronic top-up means no sneaking off to buy goodies in local shops.

Litcham High School, in rural Norfolk, is not unique in using this kind of technology, but the ways in which it connects its management technologies are thoughtful and ambitious. And with a browser-based school management information system at its heart (in this case Pearson Phoenix's e1) Litcham now has distinct advantages for developing and involving teachers, students and, ultimately, parents in management information services (MIS). It's a decision worth looking at in the world of school MIIS systems where one service - Capita's SIMS - has 80 per cent of the market.

iSchool screenSLiSchool can model BSF designsThe virtual world of Second Life has come to Middlesbrough BSF projects thanks to developers at the local City Learning Centre. Mindful of the 'visioning' needs - as well as the potential for expensive mistakes - of those involved in the multi-billion pound Building Schools for the Future programme, they’ve been creating virtual schools in the online 3D world to show teachers, pupils and governors what their design ideas could look and feel like.

The fluffy-toy camel sailed through the air to the podium in front of the speaker. Time up. With a good-natured smile she walked off the stage to hearty applause. Welcome to TeacherMeet BETT 2009.

If continuing professional development was designed as a nightclub act it would probably look something like TeachMeet. Created by Ewan Macintosh and collaborators at the Scottish Learning Festival, this by-teachers-for-teachers show-and-tell event came of age with a packed-out celebration of learning.

Stephen CrowneBecta's Stephen Crowne: 'clear evidence'Government ICT agency Becta has announced the approved suppliers for the pilot phase of the scheme – the Home Access programme - to give every child in England access to a computer and the internet at home. Becta has also announced a new foundation, set up with initial sponsorship from Microsoft, to provide support and training for parents and teachers to help children in the scheme.

The suppliers for the pilot schemes – in Oldham and Suffolk – which start in February are Centerprise International Ltd, Positive IT Solutions, RM Education plc, Stone Computers Ltd and XMA Ltd. They are authorized to supply Next Generation Learning @ Home packages: computer, internet access, software and support services. Eligible families in Oldham and Suffolk can buy all or some elements of these packages with financial help provided through a local authority-run Home Access Grant scheme.