AN ULVERSTON education trainer has joined forces with a colleague to turn their training into a virtual experience for teachers across Cumbria.

Gina Parker (Mullarkey) from Penny Bridge, and Jane Yates, from near Penrith, were disappointed when a conference - marking 25 years since Philosophy for Children (P4C) was introduced to teachers in Cumbria - to be hosted at the University of Cumbria's Ambleside campus last week was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Undeterred by the cancellation, the pair - both due to run workshops at the conference and provide Philosofun ‘energisers’ to delegates - came up with the idea of organising a virtual equivalent of a Philosofun so teachers across the County could still come together to celebrate. The hour-long free event was fully booked with a waiting list of eager teachers.

“As trainers we are all busy adapting to the world of technology to deliver our inputs," Ms Parker said. "But it felt particularly challenging to design an active and engaging ‘philosofun’ session on a screen for teachers, especially as we are both used to working in the outdoors.

"Like so many others, juggling creative thinking alongside home schooling added to the challenge.

"However, we quickly came up with a series of virtual activities focusing on language play, opinion play, object play, imagination play and art play.”

The only things the teachers were told before the session was there would be a mystery theme, to bring an item of food, and be ready to share reasons for their choice of food item in a small group.

The Philosofun event has received glowing feedback from teachers in south Cumbria.

Sam Proctor, P4C Lead at Lindal and Marton Primary School, said of the event: “ Great training. Lots of fun and engaging activities.”

Aside from the Philosofun event, Ms Parker and Ms Yates were involved in a whole programme of P4C activities during the week.

On the morning of the Philosofun, they met virtually with others who would have been involved in the conference from the University of Cumbria, Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC) and Cumbria SACRE.

There was also a surprise visit by Roger Sutcliffe, who is one of the founders of P4C in the UK, now based in France.

The University of Cumbria plans to reschedule the conference for May 2021.