The CyberFirst Schools initiative, from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – was in full swing this month, as members of the delivery consortium headed into key events to showcase the benefits of joining the programme to computer science teachers across the South West.
The consortium, made of Raytheon, Tech Spark, The South West Cyber Security Cluster and CyNam, attended the Festival of Computer Science in Plymouth and set up industry and schools engagement events in Bristol and Gloucestershire to collect Expressions of Interest from schools and industry partners in the region.
Over 25 schools across the South West have now registered their interest in applying for the CyberFirst Schools programme, which officially recognises schools and colleges that demonstrate first-rate cyber security education. If they are all successful in their applications, this will more than double the number of CyberFirst schools and colleges in the South West looking to bolster their computer science curriculums, teaching and student experiences. Successful schools will also enjoy continuous professional development for teachers, as well as a series of bespoke activities for students tailored to each school’s needs – created by industry partners and supported by a team of CyberFirst ambassadors.
Following an initial pilot in Gloucestershire, the CyberFirst Schools initiative was launched by the NCSC in 2020 to encourage collaboration between local schools, the NCSC, national and local companies and organisations who share the aim of encouraging young people to engage with computer science and the application of cyber security in everyday technology.
In 2021 it was further extended to include secondary schools and colleges in Northern Ireland, the South West of England (Dorset, Cornwall Devon, Somerset & Wiltshire) and the North East of England (Durham, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland).
The South West consortium have been awarded the pilot contract for delivering the CyberFirst Schools initiative in the South West of England.
On behalf of the NCSC, they will manage the assessment and evaluation of CyberFirst School applications; the growth of the CyberFirst Schools community in the area, and help facilitate engagement between industry and schools in the region to enable e-mentoring and work experience.
A special mention must be made to the CyberFirst Schools volunteers, who have been recently supporting the consortium and who are responsible for driving the CyberFirst Schools programme for the last few years. Without the efforts of the CyberFirst Ambassadors, and specifically the expertise of Rebekkah Bishop (kindly volunteering on behalf of organisation CACI). This collaboration has given real momentum to the project and we are looking forward to making some real impact in furthering cyber education throughout 2022.