Lessons in Cyber Security launched for school children
Secondary pupils across the UK will take part in cybersecurity lessons as Cabinet funded resources are launched in response to the rising industry skills gap.
Pete Woodward comments:
“Really interesting article in the Telegraph reporting on plans to give secondary school students lessons and industry insight to cyber security.
This is a great programme for teenagers to become more aware of the digital world they are so much involved with at the moment. A real opportunity to harness these great minds and share the enthusiasm that lessons will bring.
This could be the seed that ensures any cyber security skills gap of the future is reduced and ultimately lead to the ongoing protection and safety of the UK cyber space.”
Lessons in cybersecurity will be delivered to schoolchildren across the UK in response to growing concerns about a rising skills gap in the industry.
Resources funded by the Cabinet Office and backed by the National Crime Agency will include case studies of international cybercrime attacks and lessons on cryptography and malware.
The plans, which have been designed to give secondary school students an insight into the industry, have been developed to allow teachers to embed cybersecurity lessons into traditional curricular subjects as well as computing.
Teenagers involved in the lessons will be taught about the importance of firewalls, will learn about key malware threats currently facing the UK, and will also gain an understanding of the career opportunities within the industry.
While it is hoped that these resources could play a part in filling the skills gap which is set to increase over the next twenty years, leading industry experts have called for cybersecurity to be made a part of the curriculum.
Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said that knowing how to operate in the digital environment and understanding the pitfalls of the Internet were “fundamental to the way we live”.
“I do feel pretty passionately that we need to have the right things in the curriculum,” she said. “One of the reasons we don’t get people into cybersecurity is because they stop doing STEM subjects.
“The kids that are coming through the programme now are not going to fill our immediate need, but it’s like everything else, it’s where we have fallen down in the past; we hadn’t planned at a sufficiently early stage, we hadn’t primed the pipeline. That’s why we have a skills gap now.”
Further to the lesson plans for secondary school pupils, the organisation also recently launched a massive open online course (MOOC), open to people of all ages and developed by the Open University in partnership with BIS, GCHQ and the Cabinet Office.
However, the lessons, launched yesterday at Sedgehill School in London, have been developed specifically for pupils aged 11 to 16.
Ken Mackenzie, head of at Sedgehill School, said that presenting students with the opportunities to expand their digital skills was one of the key reasons why the school signed up.
“Students at our school may live in London but they don’t necessarily experience London in the same way that students from more affluent backgrounds would. We feel computing is a particular strength at the school and we work hard to make sure we are presenting students with a full range of opportunities.”
However, Mr Mackenzie also stressed that, aside from enhancing digital skills, the focus on careers was one that appealed to the school.
“Because of the community we serve, we start careers guidance very early on. These are conversations that take place both formally and informally,” he said.
“In order to put people in charge of their futures, we need to give them all the information we can, so that they can make informed decisions. This guidance is, sadly, not something a lot of our students get at home.”
Rob Partridge, head of BT’s Security Academy, contributed to the lesson plans. Speaking to the Telegraph, he emphasised the need to find a work force to fill the jobs anticipated over the next two decades.
“Looking at recent statistics, in cybersecurity there will be more jobs than candidates in the next twenty years,” he said. “To make sure we have those people, we need to develop our own workforce, we need to go back to grassroots level, to key stage one and key stage two teaching, to make sure the computing curriculum is taught properly in schools.”
While he voiced support for the inclusion of cybersecurity within the computing curriculum, Partridge said that embedding lessons within the traditional curriculum was a step forward.
“The new computing curriculum is a brilliant step forward, but what we’ve tried to do is augment the traditional curriculum subjects.
“What we have tried to do, through these lesson plans, is provide teachers with learning resources that not only help them teach what’s on the maths curriculum, for example, but which also helps them teach cybersecurity.”
You can read the article here: