A new online learning initiative for UK schools to use during lockdown has been trialled in Cumbria ahead of its launch.

The online model was developed by Canon and Cumbrian charity the Ideas Foundation and ran in five schools; Solway, Beacon Hill, Millom Community School, Whitehaven Academy, and Silloth Primary, with 400 students.

The workshops focused on developing students' digital and creative skills and the programme aims to give young people new skills, introduce them to creative industries, diversify their career routes, and raise their aspirations.

The project has been an incredible success and the images from the Cumbria programme even caught the eye of astronaut, explorer and gaming titan Richard Garriott, who will be using photography from the project to document ocean pollution in his upcoming expedition to the bottom of the sea.

Anna Firth, a teacher from Solway School, said: "The workshop enabled students who might struggle with language to see immediate and powerful results. It also helped students begin to see themselves as creatives."

The Young People Programme (YPP) will be opening up creative learning to other young people for World Youth Skills Day on July 15 and the initiative, which embeds photography and digital storytelling, will be available for the curriculum to UK schools and thousands of pupils.

Since April 20, students at schools across Cumbria, Manchester, Yorkshire and London have been trialling blended learning workshops developed by Canon YPP, the Ideas Foundation and the National Association of Teaching English (NATE).

Heather MacRae, managing director at Ideas Foundation, said: "We know that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are affected the most by school closures.

"The key goal of the online programme is to help disadvantaged students in deprived areas to explore their creative skills through digital storytelling despite the limits lockdown has imposed on schools in the UK.

"Co-created together with 20 teachers and the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE), it provides new ways of learning to students during both school closure and reopening stages."

The programme has been co-designed with teachers to support students aged 11 to 19 in English, art and design, media studies, citizenship, and geography and includes virtual face-to-face training sessions with photography experts such as Canon ambassador Clive Booth.

Adam Pensotti, from Canon YPP, said: "We are eager to create more resources to continue inspiring young people across the country."

One of the workshops is available on Pearson's online service, which can be accessed by 40,000 students.

It is being used in English lessons to help develop creative communications skills.

Peter Thomas, chairman and trustee at NATE, said: "The sessions and guidance in creating compelling visual stories focus on the students' powers of empathy and plausibility.

"These are both key to understanding and creating both literary and visual works, while also delivering valuable life skills such as responding to a brief and working to a deadline."