PIONEERING schools in Wales have been recognised by the UK’s leading cyber experts for providing pupils with first-rate opportunities to learn about cyber security.
Abertillery Learning Community and St John’s College, Cardiff, received Silver and Bronze awards respectively in the latest round of the CyberFirst Schools initiative, which is led by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of GCHQ.
The programme recognises schools and colleges that can demonstrate excellence in providing cyber security education and the two schools in Wales are joined by another 14 successful UK institutions announced today (Monday).
The schools showcased a range of work to promote cyber skills, including offering a Digital Leaders scheme where pupils are awarded badges, running extra-curricular coding workshops and building relationships with local industry and universities.
More than 40 CyberFirst Schools and Colleges have been recognised since the initiative’s launch last year – with 10 located in Wales – and applications are now open for more schools to join the community which is helping to close the UK’s cyber skills gap.
Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said:
“It’s fantastic to see more schools and colleges around the country being recognised for the excellent cyber security education they have to offer.
“By teaching pupils the skills they need to thrive in the industry, our growing community of CyberFirst Schools is playing a vital role, working with local industry and academia, in inspiring the next generation of cyber experts.
“I really encourage more schools to come forward in this new round of applications so we can shine a light on local cyber champions and their efforts encouraging young people to pursue careers in the field.”
The most recent call for recognition welcomed applications from secondary schools and further education colleges across the South West of England for the first time, as well as in the North East of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
First-rate cyber teaching and opportunities offered by the latest schools included: the Digital Leaders scheme at Abertillery Learning Community where students completed tasks requiring their cyber skills to receive a Digital Leaders Badge. They then passed on their know-how to others, including through running coding workshops for primary school pupils.
And St John’s College, Cardiff, is working to establish connections with organisations such as the University of South Wales, the National Digital Exploitation Centre and local companies to further enhance its provision.
A new call for recognition is now open for schools and colleges in the North East and South West of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The call closes on Friday 19 November.
Being a CyberFirst School comes with a number of benefits including official recognition from the NCSC and opportunities to collaborate with more than 130 CyberFirst partner organisations from a range of sectors on cyber related activities.