Could your school be a CyberFirst School?

22 February 2021

Could your school be a CyberFirst School? Applications are now open for schools to gain recognition for their work to encourage young people to engage with computer science and develop cyber security skills. Patrick B from the National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst team, an NCCE National Partner, told us more...

"Understanding the world of cyber security will be increasingly important for young people and their futures.
The CyberFirst Schools initiative, run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ, recognises schools and colleges across the country that are committed to providing excellence in cyber security education.
The CyberFirst Gold, Silver and Bronze awards recognise schools’ achievements in how they approach contextualising computing, digital and cyber content.
The aim is to be help students to both understand the future jobs market, as well as where their skills might best fit.
CyberFirst Schools, originally launched as a pilot in 2020 has seen 27 schools in Gloucestershire, the North East of England, Wales and Northern Ireland already recognised for their achievements with Gold, Silver and Bronze CyberFirst awards.
We are increasing the scale of this scheme to reach more schools and colleges across the country and we are inviting applicants to respond to the second call for recognition, which opened on February 15.
Schools and colleges that achieve CyberFirst recognition can expect to be:
· Formally recognised and promoted by the NCSC
· provided with opportunities to engage with local and national companies seeking to invest time, expertise and resources in schools and colleges
· provided with opportunities to engage with universities seeking to invest time, expertise and resources in local schools and colleges
·       a focal point for other CyberFirst activities
·       provided with an opportunity to be a part of CISSE UK
CyberFirst Schools is designed to help excite and enthuse students by promoting the importance of cyber security and digital opportunities. The NCSC is committed to supporting all communities to create local cyber security education eco-systems. CyberFirst Schools is at the centre of this, pulling in support from industry and academia to help with students learning whilst at school.
CyberFirst is an official partner organisation of the NCCE and our accreditation requires our schools to be engaging with the NCCE’s CPD opportunities for teachers.
Schools involved with the CyberFirst programme can access support from more than 100 industry organisations, from the public and private sector, signed up to the CyberFirst industry scheme. We also have students who have completed the CyberFirst Bursary scheme, our alumni, who work in all kinds of roles and companies now, and who are keen to support schools where possible.
Our CyberFirst Ambassadors are volunteers from industry and academia, who have signed up to support CyberFirst schools and colleges engage with industry and develop their cyber security activities.
Our first CyberFirst schools have greatly appreciated the external recognition of their efforts. Coleg Cambria which received a CyberFirst Gold Award this week said:
“This is a significant achievement for Coleg Cambria, recognising the great work the team is doing in a critical area that is growing in strategic significance and importance to the economy. Having this award will give employers and our learners confidence that the qualifications they are achieving are robust and will support them in their future careers.”
Developing cyber skills has become particularly relevant following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fiona Kane, Principal at St Ronan’s, Northern Ireland said remote learning had highlighted the importance of cyber security.
"During this past year in particular with periods of remote learning and teaching, online meetings and sharing of data at whole school level, all of us at St Ronan's College has had first-hand insight into the everyday importance of Cyber Security,” she said.
“This is a fast-growing industry and St Ronan's College is proud to be able to work collaboratively to provide our students with the opportunities to explore their interests and passions to develop their knowledge and skills to become part of the next generation of cyber professionals."
We’ve also had great feedback from students at CyberFirst Schools.
“It was specifically the practical activities and events I attended that helped me discover that I want a career in cyber,” said one student, while another told us:  “Participating in many cyber security events has shown me that there are a variety of occupations in cyber.“
And, of course, we were especially pleased with one student’s verdict; “Cyber coincides with everything; there are so many opportunities to have fun.”

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