Gloucestershire College has become one of the first to be awarded CyberFirst Schools status by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – through a new initiative which recognises excellence in cyber and cyber security education.
Described as a champion of cyber security and recognised for a first-rate approach to cyber security teaching by the NCSC, Gloucestershire College is delighted to receive its Silver Award.
One of the key aims for the NCSC is to address the cyber skills gap and inspire young people from all backgrounds to pursue a career in the field. Since 2018 the NCSC has encouraged collaboration between local schools, the NCSC, and both national and local employers who share the aim of engaging young people with the cyber industry, as part of a successful pilot scheme.
The NCSC now aims to grow the ambition and scale of this scheme, branded as the CyberFirst Schools programme, in order to formally recognise the schools and colleges who are committed to providing a structured approach to excellence in cyber security education.
Gloucestershire College is extremely proud to be one of the first schools and colleges in Gloucestershire and Wales to be awarded CyberFirst Schools status, with the accredited scheme set to roll out to a national level.
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. 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.”
In order to become a CyberFirst School, Gloucestershire College submitted a detailed application to demonstrate commitment to the future of the cyber industry and developing cyber talent, which was evaluated and scored against extensive criteria by a panel of representatives from government, industry and academia.
Andy Bates, Chief Financial Officer and Vice Principal at Gloucestershire College, said: “We are excited to be recognised as a CyberFirst School – Silver Award, as part of our ongoing commitment to developing cyber talent within Gloucestershire. As a College, we have strong ambitions to go on to achieve the Gold Award as part of our strategic plan. We know there is a huge demand for cyber and IT professionals across Gloucestershire and we are fully committed to using our expertise and resources to train students with the skills that local employers need. We offer a wide range of cyber and computing full-time courses and apprenticeships to match both student career development opportunities and employer demand in this vital growth sector.
“Our recently appointed status as an Institute of Technology has secured Gloucestershire College £3 million to invest in outstanding cyber training facilities, which will make our facilities one of the best in the country, located right next door to both GCHQ and Cheltenham’s new Cyber Central Business Park.”
The success of Gloucestershire College’s CyberFirst status is underpinned by the dedicated and highly qualified cyber and computing teaching team, who have honed their skills in industry and bring their expertise into the academic world.
Debbie Woodward, Head of school for Computing at Gloucestershire College, said: “We are so proud to be affiliated with CyberFirst and our teaching team wholeheartedly support and share their values in developing the future leaders of the IT and cyber industry.”
An exciting year awaits Gloucestershire College following the launch of its new Cyber Security Degree Apprenticeship by Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan, with multi-million pound cyber facilities in development for both students and local businesses coming in 2021. Working closely with CyNam as its academic sponsor, Gloucestershire College is ‘going for gold’ and is fully dedicated to providing students with the very best cyber education and facilities.
Madeline Howard, Director of CyNam, said: “We’re delighted Gloucestershire College has been recognised as a CyberFirst School – Silver Award. This is an important award which not only demonstrates the fantastic work those at Gloucestershire College are already doing, but indicates they are on a strong path to continue to develop their offering for young people. We look forward to supporting Gloucestershire College in helping to excite and inspire their students about the opportunities the cyber security industry has to offer on their doorstep.”