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The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has recognised eight more schools and colleges around the country for the quality of their cyber security education, in the latest round of awards made through its CyberFirst Schools scheme.
CyberFirst Schools confers Gold, Silver or Bronze status on institutions that successfully encourage young people to develop cyber security skills both inside and outside the classroom. A total of 39 institutions have been recognised so far.
“Well done to all the schools and colleges across the UK that have been awarded CyberFirst Schools status for the high standard of cyber security education they provide,” said Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber growth.
“Offering young people opportunities to gain hands-on experience of cyber security is essential for inspiring the next generation of talent and keeping the UK secure online in the years to come. We welcome these institutions to our growing community of schools, colleges, local industry and universities who are playing a key role in helping cyber skills ecosystems thrive around the country.”
The latest institutions to be recognised are Carmel College in Darlington, Chepstow School in Chepstow, Gower College in Swansea, Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham, and The College in Merthyr Tydfil, all of which receive Silver status. Meanwhile, Corfe Hills School in Poole and Thorp Academy in Newcastle-upon-Tyne have both received Bronze status. Finally, All Saints’ Academy in Cheltenham has had its previous Silver status upgraded to Gold, which means it is delivering “the highest standard of cyber security education”.
Some of the initiatives undertaken by the new crop of inductees include: a cyber escape room for pupils of All Saints’ Academy, which was set up with help from the security team at managed service provider CGI, and hosted hundreds of pupils; an event at Corfe Hills School where speakers from industry were invited to talk about their experiences in security; and the introduction at Thorp Academy of an encryption and cryptography module in the Year 8 computing curriculum. Thorp Academy also hosted an event celebrating women in technology to encourage more girls to take a computer science GCSE.
CyberFirst Schools has been running since 2020 with an initial pilot in Gloucestershire, which was extended to Wales in 2020, and to Northern Ireland, Southwest England and Northeast England during 2021.
The scheme is currently accepting expressions of interest for a further round of inductions later in 2022, but this next round is only open to institutions in Southwest England, defined as Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
The Southwest England project is being delivered by a consortium of organisations in the region, which will manage candidate assessments and evaluation, community growth and industry engagement. This group includes Raytheon UK, Cynam, the South West Cyber Security Cluster, Bristol and Bath Cyber, and Graphic Science.
Institutions that successfully attain CyberFirst Schools status receive a number of perks, including formal recognition and promotion through the NCSC, and opportunities to engage with local and national companies and universities seeking to invest expertise and resources in security education.
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