South East Schools’ First World War Project - Article 6

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How can we use video conferencing in the primary classroom to improve pupils' writing and enquiry skills?

The final article in this series of 6 publications examines how schools and their pupils are using video conferencing to learn about the key events associated with the First World War and to share their learning with others.  Discover in this report how schools used video conferencing to enable pupils to interview a First World War soldier in the trenches and to take part in a WW1 Schools Radio Broadcast.

For many of the schools these activities were the first time they had taken part in a live video conferencing event with other schools.

To replay some of the sessions click on the URL links in this report.

WW1 Christmas Truce Schools' Week      Monday 24th - Friday 28th November 2014


Over 70 primary schools from Brighton & Hove, Hampshire, Kent, Medway, East & West Sussex took part in the WW1 Christmas Truce Schools' Week. Planned events included a web conference with a WW1 soldier, visits to local museums and war memorials, sports matches and a special First World War Radio Broadcast.  Managed by the SEGfL Associates these activities gave pupils the opportunity to share poems, stories, art work and music with other schools across the south-east region.

Activity 1: Tuesday 25th November 2014          An interview with a First World War Soldier

An opportunity for pupils to take part in a 25 minute web conferencing workshop with a First World War soldier and learn about daily life and conditions in the trenches

Two weeks before to the activity all participating schools were sent an Activity Pack containing key questions and a list of web links to enable their pupils to research and prepare questions for their pupils to ask the First World War soldier.  The URL addresses included links to the following resources:

BBC Schools - Life in the trenches   

IWM - Living in the trenches  

Podcast - Trench life  

Podcast - Trench raids 

Video - Life in the Trenches

Trench Painting

The pupils were then given a week to research the topic "life in the trenches" and prepare their questions. Below is the set of questions that year 5 pupils from Northbourne Park prepared and asked the First World War soldier.

  • What was the most common cause of death in the trenches?
  • Did you build the trench you were in?
  • How often did you clean yourself?
  • Were soldiers from other countries fighting alongside you in your trench?
  • Did the tanks crush the trenches or get stuck in them?
  • Did you actually feel safe in the trenches?
  • Did anyone run away? What happened if they tried?
  • What were your superiors like?
  • What was the worst part of the war for you?
  • Did any animals take part in the war?
  • Were any of your family members serving elsewhere during the war?
  • How often did soldiers come out of the trenches?
  • For you what was the most useful personnel possession that you had with you in the trenches?
  • Did you help build the tunnel system under No Man's Land?
  • Did you write any poetry whilst you were in the trenches? If you did can you read some to us?


Following the web conference the pupils from each school were set the following tasks:

  • Visit your local War Memorial and research online to find the names of local men who served in the British army between 1914 and 1918.
  • Keep a diary for your chosen soldier. This could be a single diary entry or maybe cover a week?
  • Describe in detail conditions in the trenches and / or life away from the Front Line?
  • Try and mention in your diary some of the events that were discussed in your web conference.

To replay a selection of the sessions click on the URL links below.

Sir Robert Southwell Primary School

Cherbourg Primary

Northbourne Park School

All pupils' work received will be published on the World War I Toolbox website in the New Year.

Schools that took part in the video conference with a First World War soldier: Bodsham Primary, Little Horsted Primary, St Peter's CEP Primary, Cherbourg Primary, Northbourne Park, Sir Robert Southwell Primary, St Margarets Primary Brighton & Hove, Four Lanes Community Junior, Hellingley Primary, Rye Primary, Hawkinge Primary, All Saints Primary, Guestling Bradshaw Primary and Red Barn Primary.

Activity 2: Thursday 27th November 2014             Schools' World War I Radio Broadcast

Share your First World War project work with other schools across the South-East of England

The Schools' WW1 Radio Broadcast was a 6 hour event managed by the SEGfL Associates.

To participate in a radio broadcast just requires a desk top microphone to be attached to a PC or portable device.  Alternatively you can use a webcam with a built in microphone. If you do not wish for video images to be shared during the live broadcast then the camera should be set to off.

Schools taking part in the WW1 Radio Broadcast were each given a 20 minute slot. 

The activity was an opportunity for pupils to:

  • Read diary extracts of First World War soldiers
  • Recount events associates with the 1914 Christmas Truce
  • Describe taking part in a Remembrance Day event
  • Read aloud their own First World War poems and those of well known poets like Wilfred Owen
  • Perform their own musical compositions and familiar WW1 songs
  • Talk about their visit to a World War I Memorial
  • Discuss creating a World War I Peace Field in their school grounds
  • Share their research on First World War soldiers
  • Talk about their visit to a First World War cemetery

A selection of the work shared by the pupils during the WW1 Schools' Radio Broadcast will appear on the World War I Toolbox website from January 2015.

To replay some of the highlights from the WW1 Schools' Radio Broadcast click on the links below.

27.11.2014 WW1 Schools' Radio Broadcast (Morning)

27.11.2014 WW1 Schools' Radio Broadcast (Afternoon)

Schools that took part in the WW1 Schools' Radio Broadcast:  Hamsey Primary, 4 Lanes Junior, Bean Primary, Barham Primary, Red Barn Primary, Bodsham Primary, Guestling Bradshaw Primary, Frogmore Junior, Hawkinge Primary, St Peter's Tunbridge Wells, Hoo St Werburgh Primary, Cherbourg Primary and Rye Primary

Video conferencing in the primary classroom

The sessions featured in this report were recorded using the web conferencing application FlashMeeting

For improved image and sound quality SEGfL encourages schools to consider using Janet Desktop Client.  For details about how to install, run and book your own video conferencing sessions just click on the link below. 

For more information about the World War I Christmas Truce Schools' Week and using video conferencing in the primary classroom please contact:

Phil Bracegirdle - SEGfL Associates