CyberFirst Schools launched in NI

Date published: 
29 September 2020
CyberFirst schools colleges NCSC programme logos

Schools and further education colleges in NI will be able to apply for CyberFirst Schools status in a new initiative from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which recognises excellence in cybersecurity education. ‘CyberFirst Schools’ certifies those committed to developing young people’s cyber skills.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said:

We’re excited to open up the CyberFirst Schools initiative to more schools across the UK and look forward to shining a spotlight on the excellent teaching and opportunities being offered in Northern Ireland.

“It’s vital that the next generation of cyber experts is diverse and talented, and CyberFirst Schools demonstrates our commitment to developing young people’s cyber skills.

Schools that meet all the judging criteria are awarded Gold status – for delivering excellence in cybersecurity education, Silver schools are certified for offering good standards and meeting most of the criteria and Bronze for schools aiming towards high standards.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy said:

“It is great that the NCSC has extended their CyberFirst Schools programme here. It means schools and colleges can get recognition for their excellent teaching and the fantastic talent of our young people in this area.

“I would encourage post-primary schools and colleges to apply for NCSC CyberFirst accreditation as a tangible way of demonstrating their commitment to digital skills and cybersecurity education.”

Education Minister Peter Weir said: 

“I welcome the introduction of the CyberFirst Schools programme to Northern Ireland and would encourage post-primary schools to apply for CyberFirst Schools status to showcase their teaching and excellence in cyber security education.

“This is a valuable opportunity for schools in Northern Ireland to be recognised for their first rate cyber security teaching and for inspiring young people from all backgrounds to explore their passion for technology and potentially pursue a career in this flourishing industry.”

The NI Cyber Security Centre, which is part of the Department of Finance, has been working with the Department for the Economy, the Department of Education, the Education Authority, CCEA and the NCSC to ensure the CyberFirst Schools evaluation criteria are aligned with the existing curriculum.

Joe Dolan - Head of the NI Cyber Security Centre said:

It is great to see collaboration between NCSC, the NI Cyber Security Centre, and our Education bodies in Northern Ireland in bringing 'CyberFirst Schools' here. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase and recognise the talent of our young people and our teachers commitment to developing digital skills.

Successful schools will receive a range of benefits, including official recognition from the NCSC and opportunities to collaborate on cyber-related activities with more than 130 CyberFirst partner organisations from industries as varied as banking, telecoms and transport.

The NCSC will be hosting virtual information sessions on the CyberFirst Schools initiative for schools and colleges in Northern Ireland next week. You can register your attendance via our website.

More information about the CyberFirst Schools programme, including details about how to apply, can be found on the NCSC website. Applications are open from now until Friday 11th December 2020.