Pupils at a Bristol academy are among the first in the UK to learn how to help protect the country against potential hackers and terrorists, by becoming cyber security specialists.
Around 30 students in Years 10 and 12 at Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy are piloting the National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst Programme.
The programme of summer courses will help students develop skills to help businesses defend against online threats, such as the recent ransomware attack that infected thousands of NHS computers.
Bristol Technology & Engineering Academy, Stoke Gifford, offers a wide range of courses with a focus on the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Patrick Briggs, of the National Cyber Security Centre, which is based at GCHQ in Cheltenham, said: “There is a real skills gap and the recent spate of high profile hacking attacks, such as the one suffered by the NHS, reinforce the fact that we need more cyber security professionals in the UK.
“The long-term strategy, therefore, is to introduce the subject into computer science lessons in schools as a pathway, so that pupils initially get to learn about the technology, and then potentially go on to think about a career in this area.”
Students involved have spoken highly of the course, with James Prowse, a Year 10 student, describing it as “really useful”.
Fellow student George Nicholas agreed: “It was really interesting doing things from the hacker’s point of view and then seeing how we could defend ourselves against them,” he said.
Read more: Sharing the secrets of hack night