9th December 2005 at 00:00
"We got addicted ourselves," says Emma Cross, art co-ordinator at Orion Primary School, Barnet, north London. As parents and children swarm around the final exhibition of a six-week, whole-school project, she smiles nervously. "I'll be really happy if they buy 80 per cent of them," she says, gesturing to the images, which have been created using Photoshop and are now strung on display panels.

Photoshop entered Orion after Emma and ICT co-ordinator Patrick Cooper went on a training course. They were so thrilled by the software's possiblities that they ran an in-service training evening for the staff and embarked on a Who am I? project, which resulted in 470 images celebrating each child's individuality.

Despite being, economically, the poorest school in Barnet, with 62 per cent of children receiving free school meals and a similar percentage with English as an alternative language, the children whole-heartedly embraced the chance to make images which united their interests, ethnicity, origins and appearance.

While reception children superimposed photos of themselves on to their own watercolours, older children delved into the complexities of the programme, researching all kinds of Google images to deepen their presentations. They had to consider who or what inspires them, what there passions or interests are, where they come from, what thing are important to them, and what makes them happy. Football, religion, national flags, landscapes, pop stars, all featured. For instance, David, a would-be artist in Year 4, floated a photo of himself on Monet's waterlilies, using the transparency tool, and blended the edges with the "posteredge" option, creating his personal visual signature . The images glowed enjoyment, with technical confidence and with surprising juxtapositions.

The licence for Photoshop costs pound;1,000 for a school, but Emma and Patrick believe it is money well spent, saying it built students'

confidence, as well as their skills.

* Full details of Adobe's Photoshop range, including Elements, at: www.adobe.comeducationproductsmain.html

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