A team of schoolgirls from Chester who are studying for GCSE computer science have qualified for the final of a national contest to find the UK’s best cyber security talent of tomorrow.
Ellen Pierce, 14, Katelyn Harrington, 15, Polyanna Reed, 13, and Imogen Quadling, 15, from the Queen’s School have travelled to the heart of Westminster today (Monday) to pit their technological wits against girls from nine other schools at the final of CyberFirst Girls competition.
The competition has been organised by the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ, to generate more interest amongst young women in the increasingly important field of cyber security.
More than 8,000 girls aged 13 to15 accepted the NCSC’s challenge to take part in the online rounds, and by qualifying for the grand final, the Chester team ‘Qbit’ have already finished in the top 0.5% of entrants.
Queen’s School head of computing Damian McKeown, who is serving as the team’s mentor, said: “Globally, cybersecurity is a hugely important area, as we see from the news every night.
“Competitions like this help to equip our pupils with the knowledge, skills and inspiration needed to enable them to make the most of the opportunities that exist.
“It is certainly an exciting world to be part of and I am very proud of the way the girls have risen to the challenges.”
Deputy director for digital services at the NCSC Alison Whitney said: “It is fantastic to have representation in the final from across the UK, and I’m sure people from
Chester will join me in wishing Qbit all the best for the national final.
“I would recommend working in cyber security to any young woman hoping to make a positive impact on the world.
“Cyber security is increasingly important to help people live and work online, and we hope CyberFirst Girls will help young women develop skills that could lead to a dynamic and rewarding career.”
The final will transform a historic government building in Westminster into a live-action cyber centre to test the girls’ security skills through a series of challenging scenarios, before they are asked to present their findings to real-life experts from NCSC and industry.
The winning team will take home individual prizes and their school will receive IT equipment to the value of £1,000.
They will be presented with the prizes by Miriam González, founder of Inspiring Girls International and a partner in the law firm Dechert.
Miriam González said: “I am truly impressed by the talent of the girls who have taken part in the competition and I do hope that many of them pursue a career in the technology field.
“Inspiring Girls International is proud of collaborating with CyberFirst Girls, a wonderful initiative to inspire young women that shows to them that cyber security can offer a very interesting career for both, men and women, who are willing to make an impact in our society.”
The government is fully committed to defending against cyber threats and address the cyber skills gap to develop and grow talent.
A five year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) was announced in November 2016, supported by £1.9 billion of transformational investment.
The NCSC was opened by the Queen in February 2017 and provides a single, central body for cyber security at a national level.
It manages national cyber security incidents, carries out real-time threat analysis and provides tailored sectoral advice.