Tech-savvy schools in Gloucestershire have been awarded CyberFirst gold, silver or bronze statuses by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – as part of a new initiative which recognises excellence in cyber security education.

Schools in Gloucestershire that applied in this first round of the programme demonstrated work ranging from an all-female competition to develop a gaming computer to a ‘Mars rover’ being built and sent into near space.

The schools are now being sent their plaques and applications will shortly be opened up to schools in other parts of the country.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said: “I congratulate these schools on achieving CyberFirst Schools status – they are the first to do so and their award is thoroughly merited.

“It was great to see the innovative work going on in these schools and we look forward to inviting more to take part and go for gold.

“The CyberFirst Schools programme will help us set a consistent standard for cyber security education as we continue to develop a diverse and talented next generation of cyber experts.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: "These trailblazing schools in Gloucestershire are being recognised for their first-rate approach to teaching cyber skills.

“It is so important that we inspire the next generation to consider a career in cyber security and become the cyber defenders of tomorrow. Through CyberFirst we're continuing to build a strong pipeline of diverse talent to protect people and businesses in the years to come."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “This country is a world-leader in computing education, introducing computing to the national curriculum and giving children and young people access to innovative and important programmes such as the CyberFirst Schools initiative.

“The National Cyber Security Centre is inspiring more young people to take up a career in a discipline that is essential for our country’s safety and it is inspiring to see our schools leading the way in cyber education.”

The CyberFirst Schools programme follows the successful Cyber Schools Hub pilot in Gloucestershire, which saw more than 40 schools collaborate with local and international companies to offer cyber opportunities to more than a thousand students.

The 11 successful CyberFirst Schools in Gloucestershire are:

o Cleeve School and 6th Form Centre of Excellence, Cheltenham Gold

o Newent Community School and 6th Form College, Newent Gold

o Wyedean School and 6th Form Centre, Sedbury Gold

o Cirencester College, Cirencester Silver

o The Dean Academy, Lydney Silver

o Gloucestershire College, Gloucester Silver

o Ribston Hall High School, Gloucester Silver

o Stroud High School, Stroud Silver

o SGS Berkeley Green UTC, Berkeley Silver

o All Saints’ Academy, Cheltenham Bronze

o Winchcombe School, Cheltenham Bronze

More information about the CyberFirst Schools programme can be found on the NCSC website.