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Preparing for a pilot

Carol Lessware, teacher of Year 6 pupils at Decoy School in Newton Abbot, Devon, participated in the pilot video-conference for the National Portrait Gallery last autumn. It took place at the Digital Media Centre in Exeter.

Carol says: "We were focusing on the Tudor area as a topic, so we asked the gallery if we could look at Tudor portraits. As preparation in class, we looked at portraits from the gallery's portrait resource pack that I'd had for some time. The class critically studied the portraits we would see in the video conference, thinking about what kind of story the picture tells, looking at the details in the clothing and the incredible symbolism used in the portraits during that time."

Carol and her class also looked at art styles of the Tudor era by painting miniatures and portraits of each other.

She says the children had prepared questions to ask, but many asked off-the-cuff ones as the conference proceeded.

Afterwards, the children told the local education authority they would have preferred it if they could have seen video footage of central London and been able to hear the traffic to get a better feel of where the National Gallery is.

Carol said: "As a tool, video-conferencing is brilliant. What you can do with it is endless."

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