Pupils at Surbiton High School try their hand at Cybersecurity

By Rob Thornton

With the UK cybersecurity market currently being valued at over £3.5 billion, the need to recruit young talent into this industry has never been greater. Cybersecurity attacks and threats are on the increase and so both public and private sector industries have had to react and are allocating more spending to secure their data. Opportunities for cybersecurity experts are now found in a range of fields, including financial services, health, education, utilities and transportation. (1)

Before the summer holidays, pupils at Surbiton High School got a taste of what it’s like to be a cybersecurity expert in their Computing lessons. They were faced with a series of online hacking challenges, and many were thrilled by the problem-solving aspect, the competition with their peers, and the opportunity to do something they previously knew very little about. For many, it was far different to how they expected it to be, and several pupils were surprised that they could do it.  This year, the more enthusiastic pupils have had the opportunity to enrol in the Cyber Discovery Programme. This is an online extracurricular programme that is being run by HM Government (GCHQ), which is basically their bid to discover new cybersecurity talent in schools across the country. Given that 61% of hackers start when they are under 16 years of age, it makes sense that they would try to harness this talent at such a young age. (2)

The programme consists of four different stages; Assess, Game, Essentials, and Elite. Some of Surbiton’s cybersecurity experts have now completed the first stage. So far, they have cracked challenges that represent real-life threats faced by the cybersecurity industry today. The challenges were progressively more difficult and although sometimes there were hints, it was often a collaboration of their skills and resources which allowed them to solve problems together as a team.

Pupils that perform well in the Assess stage will be able to progress on to the Game stage, and from there to the Essentials stage. Pupils will learn new techniques and acquire new skills throughout the process, with the top-performing contestants being able to progress to the Elite stage. Anyone who gets this far will be invited to action-packed residential camps, where they will meet fellow stage winners, receive world class training and get to talk to industry experts. More updates on the progress of our own experts to come soon.

For further information on the cyber-discovery programme, please refer to the link below.


  1. www.export.gov/article?id=United-Kingdom-Cyber-Security
  2. www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/what-we-do/nca-intervention-days

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