Whitland pupils named the country’s cyber security champions!

Saturday 12th February 2022 4:35 pm
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Dyffryn Taf pupils with award
Some of the pupils from Dyffryn Taf with the award (University of South Wales )

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The University of South Wales (USW) has hosted the Welsh final of the 2022 CyberFirst Girls Competition, run by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - with the competition won by a team from Dyffryn Taf school in Whitland.

Held at USW’s Newport Campus, the home to National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA), last Saturday (February 5), the competition saw teams from 11 schools from across Wales competing to be named the country’s cyber security champions.

During the final, the pupils worked in teams to tackle cyber-related puzzles covering topics from networking and AI to cryptography and logic in a bid to score the most points and be named CyberFirst champions.

The NCSC said thousands of girls took part this year – many for the first time – in the new-look contest which aims to inspire young women to pursue cyber careers.

The new format involved 13 home nation and regional finals being held across the UK last week– rather than one UK event – so more local cyber talent could be celebrated in the final round.

Hundreds of schools signed up, with state schools that had never entered before making up more than 25 per cent of the total.

This contributed to an overall increase in the proportion of state schools compared with last year.

The other teams taking part represented Abertillery Learning Community; Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School, Bridgend; Bishop Hedley High School, Penydarren; Chepstow School; Mold Alun; St Joseph’s RC High School, Newport; Whitchurch High School, Cardiff; Ysgol Bryn Elian, Old Colwyn; Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, Cardiff; and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd, Bridgend.

Dr Paul Davies, Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering, and Science, at USW, said: “As a leader in the area of cyber education, we are delighted to have hosted the Welsh final of the 2022 CyberFirst Girls Competition.

“Last year we celebrated being named Cyber University of the Year for the third year running at the National Cyber Awards, which proved USW is one of the best places in the country to study cyber security.

“We are also the only ‘Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education’ in Wales and one of only nine in the UK to be awarded Gold Standard.

“By showcasing our facilities to the competitors, and offering them an insight into the educational opportunities available to those who study for a cyber qualification, we hope they will be able to grasp the exciting opportunities that are available within the sector.”

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said: “Congratulations to all the girls who took part in this year’s final of the CyberFirst Girls Competition in Wales – and a special well done to Dyffryn Taf for their success on the day.

“The UK’s growing cyber security industry needs more female representation, so it’s great to see thousands of girls nationwide taking part in the contest, many for the first time.

“I thank the University of South Wales and teachers for their work helping us uncover new cyber talent and I hope for many of the girls this will be just the start of their interest in this area.”

The CyberFirst Girls Competition is the NCSC’s flagship cyber security contest for schools, which opens annually to girls in Year 8 in England and Wales, S2 in Scotland, and Year 9 in Northern Ireland.

More than 7,000 pupils took part in this year’s competition – overtaking last year’s total – and adding to the tens of thousands of girls who have entered since the contest launched in 2017.

Now in its sixth year, the CyberFirst Girls Competition aims to inspire girls aged 12 to 13 to consider pursuing careers in cyber security as female representation in the sector is too low, with women accounting for just 16 per cent of the UK’s cyber workforce.

More information about CyberFirst opportunities can be found on the NCSC website.

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