How to setup custom groups and patterns

Did you know that you can group pupils or staff together for a subject or for a family?  Furthermore you can create a pattern for the group to automatically mark the attendance screen for a meal or wraparound care. 
This article will provide instructions on how to create a group alongside adding a pattern to all pupils and staff.  This article will focus on a meal group and pattern, but the steps can be applied for wraparound care.

Pre-requisites for general use

  • ParentPay calendar must be configured for the academic year (see article, How to manage your calendar).
  • Prior to creating the meal groups and patterns you will be required to create an event for all Event types, e.g. Lunch Time event, Breakfast and Afterschool Club (see article, How to set up a new meal type).

Pre-requisites for Arbor Attendance

During the setup of the Arbor Attendance feature, it is common to receive warnings for people with morning attendance marks that do not have a pattern assigned. To avoid this, each attendee is required to be allocated to a pattern, potentially one with no cost such as Packed lunch or Home meal.

Creating Meal Groups

  1. Setup your Groups and Patterns,
    • Select People [1]
    • Select Groups [2]
    • Select Create new group [3]
  2. Naming and visibility of your meal group:
    • Name of group [4] Enter the name you wish to give the meal group, i.e. Pupil -School meals
  3. Group Settings screen Checkboxes [5] some of the sections will be pre-ticked:
    • Visible in register the data will be visible in the register reports, recommended.
    • Visible for parents if ticked the group name will be visible on the pupils profile in the parent's or carers ParentPay application.  It will also indicate any patterns associated to the group.  It is purely optional for schools to select this.
    • Usable by all managers in school will ensure that all managers are able to see relevant reports and make changes to the group when necessary, recommended.
  4. As this is a new group the People in group [6] section, will display the following message 'There are no people assigned to the group, use the section below to find people to add'.   
  5. In the Find people to add section use the following options: 
    • Choose group 1 [7] select Pupil or Staff 
    • Choose group 2 [8] select All or select a Year / Registration group
    • Select Search [9] button.
      NOTE  Arbor attendance will only work for those children who have a School meal, Packed lunch or go Home for their meals everyday.  It will not work if the child changes meal preference on a daily basis.
  6. When your pupils/staff list appears:
    • Tick [10] the pupil/staff you wish to add to the group
    • Select Add to group [11] button.
    • The selected pupils will be added to the People in group section above.  

      NOTE  If the search results are limited to a Registration Group or Year you will need to repeat the Search and selection process until all school meal pupils or staff have been added to the group.
  7. Select Save [12].

      If your group is to add patterns to school meals all pupils who have a school meal, whether they pay or not, should be included in the group.  The ParentPay system will handle the charges.

NOTE  To avoid warnings on the Arbor Attendance Import Report you will need to create a group for all other meal types, i.e. Home and Sandwich pupils.

Creating a group pattern

The example below will focus on creating a meal pattern, however group patterns can be used for any other event type eg. Wraparound care.

After setting up the group and event types correctly, a pattern can be assigned to the pupils or staff included in the group.

To create a pattern:

  • Select Pupil [1]
  • Select Custom groups [2]
  • Select appropriate group [3]
  • Select Create group meal pattern [4] button. To create the meal pattern:
  • Select Choose time [5] Lunch time
  • Choose type [6] should be set appropriately (i.e. Pupil Meal, Staff Meal, Packed Lunch or Home Meal)
  • Choose day(s) [7] that the pattern will mark attendance, for the Arbor Attendance facility this will be Monday to Friday.  Bespoke patterns for individual pupils or staff can be managed from individual accounts via People> Pupil and Staff.
  • Enter the Start date [8] Note This must be a date in the future.
  • Add a Defined end date or set to be Open ended [9].
  • Consider closing days [10] should remain ticked to ensure attendance is not marked on school closure days, avoiding charges during school holidays.  Note This information is applied from the calendar dates set in ParentPay.
  • Select Save [11] to ensure the patterns are generated.


  • Repeat the above steps for any other patterns such as Staff Paid Meal, Home and Sandwich groups.

If you are completing this for Arbor Attendance go here for the next article, Daily tasks using Arbor Attendance.