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How can cyber security become part of the school curriculum?

With an increasing number of cyber security threats present in the UK, the possibility of a future shortage of trained cyber security experts to deal with these threats is cause for cause for concern, so what’s being done to ensure that tomorrow’s adults will be cyber-savvy enough to reduce the threat?

A new initiative, the Cyber Schools Programme, will teach school children aged between 14 and 18 on cyber security skills. It is hoped that this will encourage them to have a career in the industry.

What is the Cyber Schools Programme

In the three months up to February 2017, there were almost 200 high-level cyber-attacks aimed at British businesses. The chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) sees the situation as being extremely serious, and believes it could threaten national security.

The Cyber Security Schools program is available through £20m funding by the government’s Department for Culture Media and Sport. The aim is to teach up to 5,700 teenagers over the next four years.

The Minster of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, has said:

“This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.

“We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extracurricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent.”

The Cyber School Programme will start in September 2017.

Learning through playing

One challenge facing teachers is how to interest and motivate pupils to learn a subject. To make the subject of cyber security more interesting and fun, the Cyber Security Challenge organisation runs games and competitions that are designed to enable children to learn about cyber security as they play games.

Teams from different schools compete in simulations of cyber-attacks, with pupils competing to stop hacks. The competitions develop problem solving skills  and the ability to identify and understand cyber risks.

The CyberCenturion competition is for schoolchildren aged between 12 and 18 and challenges teams to learn about networking, coding and cyber security. The top teams compete in a National Final to find the ultimate champion.