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February 11, 2019updated 27 Jul 2022 5:04am

These 10 Schools Are Nurturing the Next-Gen Code Breakers

"The increase in participants is fantastic to see"

By CBR Staff Writer

Nearly 12,000 young women from around the UK joined this year’s CyberFirst Girls competition, run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

That’s massive 110 percent increase in last year’s numbers, as the problem solving and code breaking competition for 12-13-year-olds gets increasingly popular.

Now the 3,389 teams have been whittled down to 10 finalists, the NCSC announced today, on International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

CyberFirst Girls Finalists

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, said: “Throughout the three editions of the CyberFirst Girls competition we have seen how positively the teams react to the challenges we set them and really engage with the competition.”

“The increase in participants is fantastic to see and we’re looking forward to crowning our winners in Edinburgh.”

The competition will crown a finalist in March.

Teachers can enter multiple teams of up to four participants in the annual competition. They face challenges in four categories: networking; logic and coding; cybersecurity, and cryptography.

Finalists: Oxford High School team "CYB3R"

Finalists: Oxford High School team “CYB3R”

(If the NCSC’s initial Top 100 ranking of the 841 schools that entered is any guide, Watford Grammar School for Girls (#1) is the one to watch…)

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Read this: More Women in Cybersecurity: The Simple Answer to a Skills Shortage

In alphabetical order, these 10 teams made the final:

  • Beverley High School, East Riding, Yorkshire;
  • Chelmsford High School for Girls, Chelmsford, Essex;
  • Denmark Road High School, Gloucester, Gloucestershire;
  • Oxford High School GDST, Oxford, Oxfordshire
  • Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
  • St Catherine’s School, Armagh
  • The Queen’s School, Chester, Cheshire
  • The Tiffin Girls’ School, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Watford Grammar School for Girls, Watford, Hertfordshire
  • Withington Girls’ School, Manchester

The CyberFirst Girls competition is led and inspired by the NCSC (a part of signals intelligence agency GCHQ), which describes it as a “high profile intervention”  to allow 12/13yrs old girls the opportunity to explore cyber related challenges first hand.

Over the past three years, over 24,000 girls in schools across the UK have participated in the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls competition of problem-solving and code cracking challenges to crown the UK’s most cyber-capable young women.

See also: European Cyber Security Challenge: Germany Wins, UK Takes Bronze

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