ECAreg.ie – Online registration for Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) takes the administration hassle out of organising After-School Activities
Let parents book Extra-Curricular Activity (ECA) / After-School Activity classes for their children easily online. All classes are paid online and money is lodged directly in the school’s bank account*.
*RealEx merchant account needed, if your school uses Aladdin for payments you are already set up, we will just use your merchant ID.
- Parents can book ECA classes for all their children in different school classes in one go
- Secure RealEx checkout
- All money lodged directly into your bank account
- Offer re-enrolment preferences (2nd and 3rd term)
- Offer a waiting list on fully booked courses
- Offer free or discounted places for volunteer supervisors, raffled places etc.
- Access all ECA class lists on Google Docs within a week of closing registration
- No upfront cost
- No need to amend your website
- No compatibility issues with your website
- No extra software requirements
- No expensive hosting requirements to cope with traffic
- No developer cost
- No long-term contract (you can cancel after any term)
- No admin to create class lists for ECA providers
- No handling of cash
- No sales – no cost
Table of Contents
- How much do schools in Ireland usually make from offering Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) / After-School Activities?
- How do most schools run Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) / After-school classes?
- How time-consuming is running Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) / After-school classes?
- What we can do for you
- What you would have to do
- Let us do the work
- ECAreg.ie explained in detail
- How can the school make money?
- How can we change the current system?
- How to set up your school on ECAreg.ie
How much do schools in Ireland usually make from offering Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) / After-School Activities?
Most schools offer Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) or After-school classes for their students, but most schools profit very little from this service – they often only receive between €7 and €40 per class for room or hall rental.
Organising after-school activities is a lot of work and many schools don’t have the time and personnel to manage it themselves, so they let each provider organise their own classes – often supported by the Parent Association (PA/PAT/PAC) – and only ask for a minimal room rental fee. This is where we come in.
How do most schools run Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) / After-school classes?
Most schools let outside providers or teachers run ECA in their own time. Most schools in Ireland contact an activity provider to offer football, lego, chess, homework clubs, basketball, arts & crafts, yoga, music lessons, forest school, coding programmes etc. As schools are very busy they just inform parents of their available ECA programme and then let the provider deal with the parents.
How time-consuming is running Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) / After-school classes?
In many schools parents have to contact each provider individually, submit student’s details either via email or in writing for each course/provider. It’s time-consuming for parents and even more time-consuming for the course providers. Providers receive phone calls, send out emails, keep track of numbers to not over-subscribe the course, and arrange for payment either through bank transfer, cheque or cash. They meet parents at different times to collect information and payments.
Often parents contact the school secretary and/or Parent Association with additional questions or even to drop off registration forms and payments.
To summarise, it’s a lot of work for course providers, it’s often hassle for parents as each class has to be dealt with separately with different providers, and it’s time-consuming for school secretaries.
Some schools ask the Parents Association (PA/PAT/PAC) to help with ECA registration. Parents then usually fill in a form per course and place cash payment into an envelope for each course. The school secretary and/or PA need to keep an eye on incoming envelopes to ensure that no course is over-subscribed. Then all envelopes have to be opened, participant details and payments checked and each child has to be added to the correct course list manually. If further details are needed either the secretary, PA or course provider then contacts the parents to ask for them (allergies, permission for photos, permission to go home on their own, emergency contact information etc.)
In most schools, this has to be done 3 times a year and the only financial benefit to the school is the rental income which is often very small – the bulk of the money goes to the course providers.
What we can do for you
ECAreg can streamline the whole process for you, removing time-consuming administration tasks such as counting money, adding up bookings, creating lists etc.
We create an ECA page for your school which will display
- All your ECA classes with class information for each course
- Start and finish dates per course
- Start and finish times
- Available places
- Fees per class
- We can also determine which classes can book which courses (e.g. yoga for JI & SI, or chess for 5th and 6th class only)
- Implement a waiting list (for all or specific classes)
- Issue discount codes if desired (e.g. for supervisors)
The booking portal will open and close at the exact times you give us, we will then take care of all administration, export all data per class and email the lists to you securely within 5 days. The lists can be easily edited in Excel as required and passed on to the course provider, incorporating any information deemed necessary.
What you would have to do
Simply e-mail us the following:
- A list of your Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA)
- Number of places in each class
- Course descriptions
- Course durations
- Course prices per term (up to 3 terms per school year)
We will provide you with an Excel template to fill in details of each ECA class.
Let us know when you would like the booking portal to open and close for pre-enrolment (subsequent terms) and for general bookings (dates & times for both).
Let us know your Aladdin merchant ID number, so we can set up that all parent payments will go directly into your school bank account using the payment gateway connected to your Aladdin platform. Please note, we cannot access your Aladdin account or any student details. We do not access any of your accounts, we simply add your merchant ID to the gateway of your ECAreg.ie page, so that any payments to that page will go directly into the bank account connected to that merchant ID (i.e. your school bank account). Payments will not be held anywhere but go directly into your account without delay.
Let us do the work
We set up the full ECA booking portal customised to your ECA requirements on ECAreg.ie.
We send you a link to the complete booking site for you to check.
We make changes to your ECA classes (timing, dates, fees, descriptions). We offer up to 3 updates for free once all classes have been added.
When you’re happy we send you a link to be forwarded to the parents of your school.
Your booking portal will only be accessible using the forwarded link.
For subsequent terms (i.e. term 2 and 3), we can add a condition for re-enrolment to each course to only allow bookings from parents whose children have attended the same course in the previous term and then remove this condition after a few hours or days to allow the rest of the school to book any available places.
We can also add a waiting list to any course which will open up automatically once a course has reached capacity. Parents will sign up to the waiting list with their email address for the number of places they require. They are only asked to pay for the place(s) once a place becomes available through cancellation or by adding more places to a course.
If you would like to offer discretionary/free places to certain students or parents who act as supervisor, we can create voucher codes which you can then email to parents who are allowed to receive a place for free or at a discounted rate (e.g for supervisors).
ECAreg.ie explained in detail
The ECA booking portal
Parents can book classes for all children in the family in one booking (including different classes and times, such as JI and 3rd class pupil).
ECA classes can be displayed in different categories, i.e. all JI & SI classes together, a separate homework or after-school club bookable per day, followed by all available classes for 1st-6th class or any other categories you would like. Please see our demo page for an example.
Once all classes are added to the cart, parents can pay for all classes in one go using the secure checkout Realex, which will lodge the money directly to the school’s bank account, so the school receives the money instantly.
When a class is fully booked the page will display an option to add your name to a waiting list for that class. If other children cancel or places are added to the class, the system will send an email to the parents on the waiting list in the order parents have signed up.
Parents will be asked on the signup page to only add as many places as they definitely need (max of 3 places, but this can be amended if needed). If they sign up for 2, but only 1 becomes available, the next on the list only looking for 1 will be offered the place instead. So siblings will receive places together if available, but they will not just get one place and have to pick up the other child separately. Email links will expire after a certain time (i.e. 24 hours) which will be stated in the email. That place will only be available to book using that unique link to the website, parents add student’s details and pay for the place.
What happens after the booking portal closes
We will disable your bookings page and compile a list of students for each class.
We upload these lists to Google Docs and email you a link that will be accessible only with the email address(es) you give us. Google Docs data is encrypted in transit and at rest.
You can amend each list by moving or removing columns as you see fit, then print only the required details for each class teacher.
To contact parents of one specific class you can copy all email addresses or phone numbers of that class (individual columns) and then paste them into your email account or text message account. Another suggestion would be to set up an app such as ‘Teamer’ for each class and contact parents through that.
Once you’re happy with everything, we will invoice you a small percentage of the ECA sales that term. Please email us for rates.
We will only invoice you after you have received all payments for that term already. There are no fixed charges, only a percentage of what you have received already, so no surprises. No sales – no charges. The agreed merchant fees for RealEx will apply to all incoming payments, it will depend on your account how many free transactions are covered and any relevant fees. Please check this with your RealEx account manager directly.
How can the school make money?
We take over the administrative element of organising Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA).
That means once you have chosen the activity providers and they have agreed to the T&C, the provider only needs to prepare the class and then show up when they teach the class. They don’t have to meet with parents, collect and chase any payments from parents, send forms to parents, check any forms or contact parents to ask for additional information – this will all be handled by us and the registration system. The provider does not have to deal with any of the administrative parts of the course and will therefore save a lot of time and hassle – in exchange the provider will be asked to agree to a fixed fee to just run the class.
When negotiating the rate, please keep in mind that running ECA classes for schools is very attractive for providers as they don’t have to take care of marketing. ECA classes are very popular for students and parents alike, and therefore well booked. There is no risk of classes being undersubscribed and therefore being uneconomical for the provider. Also, offering their courses in schools is a great way for providers to advertise their services generally. We believe in paying a fair fee to providers but the school should not give most of it away.
- ECA is a great way to offer popular activities to students (educational, team building and fun)
- ECA save parents the extra pick up and drop off
- ECA offers a secure income and advertising for providers
- ECA provides a well-needed income for underfunded schools
- And all this can be done without increasing the cost for parents
The amount you pay to providers is up to you however other schools use a payment model of €50-€70 per class successfully, which is fair to providers and still create a good income for schools.
How can we change the current system?
Of course this depends on the school size and ECA programme, but to give you an example:
First of all, we (we were the PAC then) spoke to all our ECA providers and said that we would like to make some more money for our school to help with the day-to-day running of the school. Therefore we suggested taking care of the administrative part of ECA and in exchange pay an hourly rate of €50-€70 depending on the class size, popularity and additional costs. All our providers know how underfunded primary schools are and personally were delighted to not have to deal with the administrative part of ECA anymore.
Every provider agreed to the new payment terms without hesitation. Many providers offer 2 classes in a row, one for the Junior & Senior Infant classes, followed by another class for 1st to 6th class. So their income would be €100-€140 for 2 hours ECA. The provider did not have to organise anything in regards to registration or payment beforehand.
They prepared their classes, showed up 10 minutes before the class begins to pick up their attendance sheets from the school secretary, collected the pupils and taught the class. We agreed on instructor payment at the beginning of each term, so they simply submitted an invoice for the term after the first class and the school secretary paid it in the next payment cycle. As the school received all the participant payments by the registration date, before the term commenced, there was no cash flow issue.
How to set up your school on ECAreg.ie
- The school (either the PA/PAC/PTC or the school staff) will have to agree on the new system with the ECA course providers.
- Send an email to parents to let them know about the new system (booking and paying online).
- Email us a list with your ECA subjects, available places, class descriptions, durations & prices per term (2-3 terms per school year) – we will provide you with a Google Docs Excel template for this. We will then add all classes and send you a link to the booking portal for review, and any changes can be agreed upon. We offer up to 3 updates for free after all classes have been added.
- For subsequent terms (i.e. term 2 and 3), we can add a condition for re-enrolment to each course to only allow bookings from parents who have booked the same course in the previous term and then remove this condition after a few days to allow the rest of the school to book any remaining available places. If a specific class does not go ahead in the subsequent term but you would like to give priority to another or new course to those children, that’s no problem either.
- Let us know when you would like the booking portal to open and close for a.) re-enrolments and/or b.) new bookings for the rest of the school (dates & times).
- Let us know your RealEx merchant ID number, so we can set up that all parent payments will go directly into your school bank account. If your school uses Aladdin for school administration and to receive payments then you have a merchant account with RealEx already. There is nothing you have to change or add, just let us know your merchant ID number and we’ll add that to the payment gateway of your ECAreg.ie booking site. The agreed merchant fees for RealEx will apply on all incoming payments, it will depend on your account if and how many free transactions are covered and any relevant fees. Please check with your RealEx account manager directly.
- Let us know whether you’d like to offer a waiting list on any or all courses.
- Let us know if you need any voucher codes to be applied for free/discounted places (e.g. for parents who help as supervisors or for any other reason).
- Email all parents of the school to ask them to register an account on the school’s ECA registration page. Inform parents of the exact date and time when the booking portal will be opened for re-enrolment and/or new bookings, as bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. Email them the link to the booking portal.
- Once bookings are closed, we will disable your bookings page and assemble a list of students for each class.
- We email you a link to Google Docs which will include all ECA class lists accessible only with the email address(es) you give us. These lists can then be edited and printed for each class teacher. These sheets will include the following details: Class name, parent name, Email address, Status of booking (approved or cancelled), Permission for photos, Permission to walk home on their own (if applicable), Student’s full name, Student’s class, Emergency contact number, Any special needs, Any injuries/sicknesses/allergies. You can then remove any information not necessary to the course provider before printing (e.g. email addresses).
- Course providers will invoice the school. As the school receives all participant payments by the registration date, before the term commences, there is no cash flow issue.
- Once you’re happy with everything, we will invoice the school a small percentage of the ECA sales that term. Please email us for rates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We will only invoice you after you have received all payments for that term already, so there is no cash flow issue. There are no fixed charges, only an agreed percentage of what you have received already, so no surprises.
- We would recommend finishing regular ECA a week before any school holidays, to be able to offer make-up classes in the last week for any ECA classes which might have been cancelled (due to weather, trainer absence, unprecedented school closure etc.)
You can test our system and see how the booking portal works by clicking here or go to ‘ECA Demo’ in the top navigation bar. Even though ECAreg.ie is mobile-friendly, for best user experience it’s recommended to use a laptop or desktop computer whenever using the booking system.
Please let us know if you’re interested in using ECAreg.ie for your school or if you have any questions at all by contacting Julie or Damien at email@example.com