A team of girls from The Queen’s School in Chester has today been revealed as national finalists for the CyberFirst Girls competition.
It is the third year in a row that a team from the city centre girls’ school has been named as one of the top 10 teams in the country by the GCHQ judges.
A record number of nearly 12,000 young women – a 110% increase on previous years - participated in the National Cyber Security Centre competition.
Anoushka Paymaster-Thatcher, Leandra de Kiewit, Limonée Fearn and Erinna Anthony in Year 8 make up Team G.L.1.T.C.H and will now travel to Edinburgh in March where they will compete against nine other teams from across the UK.
Head of Computing at The Queen’s School Damian McKeown said: “The pressure was on this year thanks to our previous success and this is a superb achievement. It is testament to the hard work the girls consistently put in and will be a fantastic experience for them all. The NCSC is specifically looking for more women to enter the industry and challenges like this are a really effective way of giving girls a taste of cyber-security to help them develop the necessary skills and decide if it is a path they wish to follow.”
Currently just 11% of the global cyber workforce are women and today’s announcement was timed to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
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.”
The Queen’s School in Chester are one of the Top 10 finalists who will be moving forward to Edinburgh’s face-to-face final with the remaining 9 being:
• Watford Grammar School for Girls
• Beverley High school, East Riding, Yorkshire
• Oxford High School
• Denmark Road, Gloucester
• Chelmsford High School for Girls, Essex
• Tiffin Girls School, London
• St Catherine’s School, Armagh
• Withington Girls’ School, Manchester
• Royal Masonic School for Girls, Hertfordshire
Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said: “It’s great to see that so many young women are keen to get into the cyber industry with record numbers applying to the CyberFirst Girls competition. 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. Over the past three years, over 24,000 girls in schools across the UK have participated in the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls competition of problem-solving and code cracking challenges to crown the UK’s most cyber-capable young women.