Our 2018 CyberFirst Girls finalist team, Enigmatic, attended a reception this week with Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace.
Over 4,500 girls from around 400 schools up and down the country entered this year's competition run by GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). Team Enigmatic did exceptionally well in the online heats of the competition finishing in third place to secure a place in the 10 team final at Old Trafford Cricket Ground back in March. After an exceptionally close final all 10 finalist teams had a special surprise treat - an invitation to tea at the Palace.
The day was a wonderful experience for the team comprising of Raka, Eleanor, Isobel and Raphi. After entering the gates at Buckingham Palace the team was escorted to the very heart of the Palace along the Chinese Corridor to the room behind the Royal Balcony - a room not usually open to the public - where the reception was held. The girls enjoyed once in a life time views of the Mall through this famous window before getting down to the business of the day - some cyber challenges designed to encourage problem solving and team work - a perfect demonstration for the Duke of York to see what the girls had done to get to the final in the first place.
The Duke was accompanied by the NCSC's CEO, Ciaran Martin. Both had interesting and inspirational things to say about the important role that young women will have in securing the cyber security of our nation and businesses in the future - essential if the current skills gap in this area is to be addressed.
Computing teacher Mrs Joanne McKeirnan escorted the girls on the trip, she said: "It was a fabulous day and was lovely to see how interested the Duke was in talking to all the teams about their experiences throughout the competition. I was very proud of the girls who were first to crack the code in the challenge of the day and literally stop the clock. I hope their achievements, and two years in the final for Queen's, will encourage our budding cyberists currently in Year 7 to get involved in next year's competition."