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New cyber lesson plan for schools

27 October 2014

A pioneering lesson plan designed to engage secondary school students in cyber security has been launched in response to growing industry concern over a severe talent shortage.

The schools pack - produced by Cyber Security Challenge and funded by the Cabinet Office - features ready-made teaching resources designed by the UK’s leading cyber employers to help young people discover why cyber security matters and inspire them to consider a career defending the UK online. The lesson plan includes case studies of international cyber-crime attacks, sessions on cryptography and malware, all contributed by leading UK sponsors including the National Crime Agency (NCA), defence specialists Raytheon, IT trade association CompTIA, Sophos and BT. These organisations are just some of many that are concerned the UK faces a severe cyber security skills shortfall, at a time when there is an increase in online threats. They have called for cyber security to be included in the National Curriculum. Last year, the Cyber Security Challenge UK Schools Programme saw over 750 UK schools register for national competitions and engaged thousands of young people by introducing Bletchley Park code-breaking kits and Cluedo-style cyber hunts into school lessons. The new lesson plan content includes:

- Real-life case studies from the National Crime Agency - for students to discuss in class
- Crypto Battleships – a game to help remind students that cryptography is at the heart of computer science
- An infographic demonstrating facts about cyber security and the career opportunities for students
- A firewall activity designed by BT Security (with separate answers for teachers)
- The SOPHOS Cyber Security Quiz which demonstrates key malware threats currently facing the UK
- The competition and teacher packs are available to schools across the country by signing up here

Brian Higgins, Schools Programme Manager at the Cyber Security Challenge said: “The cyber security talent shortage is a major concern for industry, with fears that it could take 20 years to close the skills gap. There is widespread consensus in the business community that whilst the existing curriculum moves the game on considerably, cyber security should be prominent. We have been working with leading employers to design lesson plans that get young people engaged in what is a vital STEM subject and give them the desire and knowledge to pursue careers in an industry which offers great career options for young people and is in dire need of skilled workers”.

Mark Hughes, President of BT Security said: “We believe cyber security should be included in the national curriculum, particularly at a time when the UK is faced with a worrying shortage of cyber security talent. Almost every day the media carry a story about another cyber threat and it is only going to get worse. These are crucial skills that the UK is going to need so we would encourage schools to teach cyber security to all age ranges. We helped set up national ‘code-breaking’ competitions for schools and the enthusiastic response we saw from the children just highlighted the huge talent pool that our economy could be tapping into. We need schools to work with us to show young people the benefits and opportunities of careers in cybersecurity.”

Lindsey Kemp, NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) said: “The threat posed to the UK by online crime is a priority for the National Crime Agency. To help tackle this problem, we need to attract and recruit officers who have the technical skills, adaptability and enthusiasm needed to keep pace with technological change. By supporting the Cyber Security Challenge, and specifically the new lesson packs for schools, we hope to encourage young people to consider careers in cyber security, including opportunities to combat some of the most serious cyber criminals targeting the UK.”