Withington Girls' School pupils reach GCHQ Cyberfirst Girls Competition Finals

PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 February 2019

The Withington Year 8 CyberFirst Girls Competition Finalists

The Withington Year 8 CyberFirst Girls Competition Finalists

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The GCHQ led competition aims to address gender imbalance in cyber-security

Four Withington Girls’ School Year 8 pupils have won through to the final of the CyberFirst Girls Competition, a competition of problem-solving and code cracking challenges, organised by the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ. The group were delighted to be judged one of the top ten in the nationwide competition involving over 3350 teams.

The initial round of the competition involved taking part in an online challenge where they had to put their Cryptography, Cyber Security, Networking and Logic and Coding skills to the test and, now, as one of the top ten teams, they go forward to the face-to-face final to crown the UK’s most cyber-capable young women, to be held in Edinburgh in March.

Withington’s Headmistress, Mrs Sarah Haslam, congratulated the four Year 8 pupils: “Our pupils love new challenges and we’re delighted that this team has achieved a top ten finalist position in a national competition that creates awareness of the increasingly vital area of cyber security. We wish them all the very best in the final in March.”

WGS Head of ICT, Mr Andrew Snowden, said: “This is a tremendous achievement. I have been incredibly impressed by the girls’ perseverance in tackling the challenges set by the NCSC. Not only are the activities fun and engaging, but they inspire girls to consider cyber security as a career path.”

This GCHQ led competition aims to address gender imbalance in cyber-security and it is bearing fruit with a record 12,000 participants in the 2019 competition. Currently, just 11% of the global cyber workforce are women.

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.”

Digital and Creative Industries Minister, Margot James MP, said: “It’s great to see that so many young women are keen to get into the cyber industry. Through our initial cyber security skills strategy we are not only improving our capability in cyber but also boosting the skills of young people and creating a more diverse workforce.”

As an added incentive for all competitors, the NCSC will be offering around 600 free places on specially commissioned four-day CyberFirst Defenders courses in April and May 2019. These courses will be ‘all girls’ and a mix of residential and non-residential at locations across the UK.

Further information regarding the CyberFirst Girls competition can be found here: www.cyberfirst.ncsc.gov.uk

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