Class of their Own: 14 Schools Recognised by Cyber Experts for First-rate Teaching


Schools and colleges across the UK have shown they are in a class of their own by becoming the latest to receive gold, silver or bronze awards for first-rate cyber security teaching.

Fourteen institutions have been recognised for showing excellence in cyber security education, as part of the CyberFirst Schools initiative run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ: six in Wales, five in Northern Ireland, two in the North East of England and one in Gloucestershire.

The programme recognises schools and colleges that can show their dedication to inspiring the next generation of cyber security experts and addressing the UK’s cyber skills gap.

The successful schools demonstrated a range of work aimed at engaging pupils, including offering lunchtime coding clubs, sessions where pupils could pitch Internet of Things concepts, and running projects linking computing to medical sciences.

Now, more cyber-savvy schools across the country are being encouraged to join the initiative, as a new call for recognition opened this week – including to schools in the South West of England for the first time.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said:

“Congratulations to all the schools and colleges that have been awarded CyberFirst Schools status for their first-rate approaches to teaching cyber security skills.

“It is inspiring to see the wide range of opportunities being offered to pupils and I’m delighted to welcome the schools to our growing community from around the UK.

“Through the CyberFirst Schools initiative, the NCSC continues to work with schools and local communities to inspire the next generation of cyber security experts.”

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said:

“The country needs a new generation of talented tech experts to protect our online spaces. So I’m delighted to see so many schools being recognised by the NCSC for their sterling work training young people for an exciting career in cyber security.

“Ensuring everyone has the digital skills they need to thrive in an increasingly tech-fuelled economy is central to our efforts to build back better from the pandemic.”

The CyberFirst Schools programme was launched last year, with thirteen schools and colleges receiving certification in September in the first round of applications.

The most recent call for recognition welcomed applications from schools in Gloucestershire, the North East of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The 14 newly recognised CyberFirst Schools and Colleges across the UK are:

o Cardiff High School, Cardiff Gold

o Cardiff and Vale College, Cardiff Gold

o Coleg Cambria, North East Wales Gold

o Saint Ronan’s College, Lurgan Gold

o Corpus Christi Catholic High School, Cardiff Silver

o Denmark Road High School, Gloucester Silver

o North East Futures UTC, Newcastle Upon Tyne Silver

o Royal Grammar School Newcastle Silver

o Rougemont School, Newport Silver

o South Eastern Regional College, Co. Down Silver

o St Joseph RC High School, Newport Silver

o St Patrick’s College Dungannon Silver

o Dalriada School, Ballymoney Bronze

o Knockevin Special School, Downpatrick Bronze

Examples of first-rate cyber security education opportunities offered by schools included: offering coding clubs to Years 7 and 8 at Corpus Christi Catholic High School; Saint Ronan’s College working with CyberFirst associate member PwC to run sessions where pupils pitched Internet of Things concepts and North East Futures UTC setting up projects to find links between computer science and medicine science.

Emil Evans, Vice Principal at Cardiff and Vale College, said:

“We are delighted that Cardiff and Vale College has achieved CyberFirst’s Gold Award in its recent assessment of the College’s provision. Not only is this testament to the hard work and dedication of our Computing Department but reflects the whole college’s vision of the importance of Cyber Security as an exciting and vital industry for our learners to aspire to work within.

“In addition, we believe the College’s Gold Award status reflects our commitment to continuing to develop strong working relationships with our partners within the Cardiff Capital Region and will provide us with the platform and inspiration to continue to grow and offer a cutting edge Cyber Security curriculum at CAVC.”

Geoffrey Stanford, Headmaster at Newcastle Royal Grammar School, said:

“We are delighted to have received recognition from the National Cyber Security Centre for our Computer Science provision at the RGS and how the subject is able to inspire and motivate our pupils. We recognise the importance of having a thorough grounding in the discipline and we anticipate that it may provide the foundation for a future career for many young people.”

The next call for recognition is now open for secondary schools and further education colleges interested in gaining CyberFirst Schools certification. It closes on Friday 18th June.

Schools in the North East, Northern Ireland and Wales can apply, as well as those across the South West for the first time; in addition to Gloucestershire, applications are now open in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

For schools and colleges in Wales considering an application, the National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC) has pledged to offer extra support, saying it wants “as many Welsh schools and colleges to benefit from this brilliant scheme”.

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