Girls’ cyber security skills recognised at CyberFirst awards

Team from Oxford High School scores highest overall in competition that encourages girls to explore cyber and technology, in bid to address lack of diversity in sector. 

The awards ceremony for the annual CyberFirst Girls Competition took place at the Robotics Institute at the University of Oxford.  

Some of the winners at the CyberFirst Girls award ceremony held in Oxford, photo courtesy of National Cyber Security Centre

Some of the winners at the CyberFirst Girls award ceremony held in Oxford, photo courtesy of National Cyber Security Centre

The competition is run by the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, as part of efforts to address the sizeable gender disparity in the sector. Woman comprise just 17% of the those working today in cyber in the UK.  

More than 12,500 girls from across the UK took part in the competition, which ended in December, tackling a series of online cyber security challenges. Some 70,000 girls have taken part in the competition since it began in 2017. 

The highest-scoring schools were invited to the celebratory event, where more than 50 girls took part in activities such as multilingual codebreaking, coding and programming drones, and role-playing scenarios in the university’s engineering department. The day culminated in the awards ceremony itself. 

Newlands Girls’ School in Berkshire won £5,000 as top-scoring state newcomer to the competition. The Tiffin Girls’ School in Surrey won top-scoring returning school. St Augustine’s Catholic College in Wiltshire had the highest collective score for a CyberFirst School. 

There were prizes, too, for most team entries from independent, state and state selective schools respectively. These were awarded to Wimbeldon High School in south London, Eden Girls’ School in Waltham Forest and Nonsuch High School for Girls in Surrey. 

The highest scoring team overall was from Oxford High School. 

Felicity Oswald, interim CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, says: ‘A huge congratulations to all the winning teams from this year’s CyberFirst Girls Competition. It’s fantastic to see so many talented young women engaging with cyber and technology and I hope it inspires them to consider a career in the cyber security industry, which needs more female representation. 

‘I’d like to thank the teachers, sponsors, industry partners and all the students who made the 2023 competition so successful.’

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