Scarborough girls learn cyber skills at GCHQ event

Scarborough school students attended an event at Scarborough Spa on Monday December 9 organised by GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 2:30 pm
Pindar School students hard at work. Picture by Richard Ponter

Around 150 Year 8 girls from schools across Yorkshire, including Scalby, Graham and Pindar, took part in the day.

The event was designed to give the girls an introduction to the world of cyber security, which is currently a male-dominated industry.

Students took part in interactive cyber workshops in cryptography and coding run by GCHQ experts which aimed to spark further interest among the girls and encourage them to enter the CyberFirst Girls competition, in which teams work together to complete cyber challenges.

Pindar teacher Sally Nolan with a pupil. Picture by Richard Ponter

Sally Nolan, IT teacher at Pindar School, took four girls along to the event.

She said: “I brought a group that gets on with each other and who I know will really engage with the activities.

“They’re really conscientious in my IT lessons.”

Though coding and other cyber security skills are referenced in the curriculum, Sally said it can be quite dry.

Scalby students learn cyber skills. Picture by Richard Ponter

She hoped the interactive events would help to make coding more engaging.

Scalby School sent 10 girls to experience the day who had volunteered to attend.

A different group from the school entered the competition last year.

Hamish Harron, head of science, said: “GCHQ also came into school and did a code-breaking day with us with students enjoyed.

Girls from Graham work on a problem. Picture by Richard Ponter

“Scalby also has computer science as an option at GCSE which has cyber security as part of it.”

Graham School took seven girls and computer science and maths teacher Chris Williams hoped it would encourage more girls to choose computer science at GCSE.

He said: “We’re having to broaden the curriculum to show them that it’s not just sitting in a corner coding.”

Registration for the CyberFirst Girls Competition is now open until January 21 2020.

Teams can register at www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberfirst