National Cyber Challenge for Codebreaking Schoolgirls in North East

National Cyber Challenge for Codebreaking Schoolgirls in North East
CyberFirst competition

Codebreaking schoolgirls completed a series of cyber challenges at the regional final of a national competition hosted by Teesside University.

The girls put their cyber security knowledge to the test at the North East of England final of the 2022 CyberFirst Girls Competition, run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ.

Working in their school teams, the girls cracked a series of tests set through the competition, which aims to encourage more girls to explore cyber security and improve gender diversity within the subject.

The winners, from Valley Gardens Middle School in Whitley Bay, used their digital skills to complete the 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.

CyberFirst competition

Now in its sixth year, the CyberFirst Girls Competition aims to inspire girls to pursue interests in technology and consider a career in cyber security, a field where women are still under-represented in the UK.

The 2022 competition had a new format aimed at encouraging more entrants from every part of the UK, with 7,000 girls from hundreds of schools taking part in the qualifying round. Finalists from 10 schools competed in the regional event hosted by Teesside University.

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 the North East – and a special well done to Valley Gardens Middle School 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 Teesside University 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.”

Professor Chrisina Jayne, Dean of Teesside University’s School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies, said: “We are honoured to have been chosen to host this national competition, which will help to inspire more girls to consider pursuing a future career in cyber security.”

This year’s competition involved finals being held across the UK, with some taking place virtually and others in person. Teams who competed in the home nation and regional finals scored highest in the online qualifying round in December. The winners received laptops as part of their prize, along with an invitation to a celebration event later in the year.7

The North East finalists were from Our Lady and St Bede, Stockton; Burnside College, Wallsend; Carmel College, Darlington; Durham Johnston Comprehensive School; George Stephenson High School, Killingworth; Monkseaton Middle School, Whitley Bay; Sedgefield Community College; Southmoor Academy, Sunderland; St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School and Sixth Form College, Lanchester; and Valley Gardens Middle School, Whitley Bay.

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