NCSC recognises UK’s top cyber schools

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Fourteen schools and sixth-form colleges across the country have been recognised for the quality of their cyber security instruction in the latest round of the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) CyberFirst Schools initiative.

The gold, silver and bronze awards were given out to six institutions in Wales, five in Northern Ireland, two in north-eastern England and one in Gloucestershire, which were judged to have shown their dedication to inspiring a new generation of cyber security experts, and filling the chronic skills gap.

Each of the schools offers a range of work designed to engage pupils around cyber, including coding clubs, internet of things (IoT) pitch sessions, and projects linking computing to medical sciences.

“Congratulations to all the schools and colleges that have been awarded CyberFirst Schools status for their first-rate approaches to teaching cyber security skills,” said Chris Ensor, the NCSC’s deputy director for cyber growth.

“It is inspiring to see the wide range of opportunities being offered to pupils and I am delighted to welcome the schools to our growing community from around the UK.

“Through the CyberFirst Schools initiative, the NCSC continues to work with schools and local communities to inspire the next generation of cyber security experts.”

The gold award recipients are Cardiff High School, Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Cambria near Flint, and Saint Ronan’s College in Lurgan. The silver award recipients are Corpus Christi Catholic High School in Cardiff, Denmark Road High School in Gloucester, North East Future UTC in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Royal Grammar School Newcastle, Rougemont School in Newport, South Eastern Regional College in County Down, St Joseph’s Roman Catholic High School in Newport, and St Patrick’s College in Dungannon. The bronze award recipients are Dalriada School in Ballymoney, and Knockevin Special School in Downpatrick.

Emil Evans, vice-principal at Cardiff and Vale College, said: “We are delighted that Cardiff and Vale College has achieved CyberFirst’s gold award in its recent assessment of the college’s provision. Not only is this testament to the hard work and dedication of our computing department, but reflects the whole college’s vision of the importance of cyber security as an exciting and vital industry for our learners to aspire to work within.

“In addition, we believe the college’s gold award status reflects our commitment to continuing to develop strong working relationships with our partners within the Cardiff Capital Region and will provide us with the platform and inspiration to continue to grow and offer a cutting-edge cyber security curriculum.”

Geoffrey Stanford, headmaster at Newcastle Royal Grammar School, added: “We are delighted to have received recognition from the NCSC for our computer science provision and how the subject is able to inspire and motivate our pupils. We recognise the importance of having a thorough grounding in the discipline and we anticipate that it may provide the foundation for a future career for many young people.” 

This is the second “intake” in the CyberFirst Schools programme, following an initial roll-out last year, and the scheme is now being further expanded to include schools in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Also, institutions in Wales considering applying for the scheme may be able to get extra support from the National Digital Exploitation Centre/Canolfan Ecsbloetio Ddigidol Genedlaethol, a Thales-backed initiative to promote the digital economy in Wales. Schools and colleges are encouraged to contact enquiries@ndec.org.uk using the subject line “CyberFirst Application Support”.

Digital minister Matt Warman said: “The country needs a new generation of talented tech experts to protect our online spaces, so I am delighted to see so many schools being recognised by the NCSC for their sterling work training young people for an exciting career in cyber security.

“Ensuring everyone has the digital skills they need to thrive in an increasingly tech-fuelled economy is central to our efforts to build back better from the pandemic.”

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