Government launches UK-wide Cyber Explorers Cup


Young people from schools from all over the UK are being encouraged to test their cyber security nous and protect Cyber City from the evil clutches of Herbert the Hacker as they vie for a chance to be crowned Cyber Explorer Champions.

The competition forms part of the established Cyber Explorers programme, which has already reached more than 50,000 11- to 14-year-olds at over 2,500 schools since its launch in February 2022.

Cyber Explorers comprises a free learning platform that introduces core cyber security concepts to Key Stage 3 pupils – including digital forensics, encryption, secure communications, network security and the Computer Misuse Act.

The Cyber Explorers Cup will see teams completing a series of missions, taking the ever-popular Capture The Flag format beloved of ethical hackers and red teams.

The winning schools – one each from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – will receive tech-related prizes, such as vouchers for new IT equipment, class trips and opportunities to engage in deeper learning opportunities, as well as branded learning materials.

“As the pace of technological change picks up, it is more important than ever to harness the enthusiasm of future generations, inspired by the prospect of exciting careers in cyber security that keep us safe. The Cyber Explorers Cup will help us do exactly that,” said science and technology secretary Michelle Donelan.

“I want Cyber Explorers to create new opportunities for thousands of young people to gain the crucial knowledge in cyber security, digital tech and computing we need to bolster our growing cyber sector and make the UK a technology superpower.

“With exciting activities and expert insight on offer to help build those valuable skills, I encourage teachers across our country to take on the challenge.”

TV presenter, educator and Cyber Explorers supporter Baasit Siddiqui, who rose to national fame on Channel 4’s Gogglebox, added: “Having worked on the Cyber Explorers programme for over a year, it has highlighted the importance of preparing the next generation of cyber professionals. We need to empower digital literacy, resilience and creativity in the digital space.

“I’ve enjoyed supporting students in recognising the incredible ways in which technology is used in varying careers, but also informing them of the importance of protecting their devices and data from varying cyber threats. I’m confident the upcoming Cyber Explorers Cup will celebrate the most cyber-savvy children across the UK and I’m excited to be a part of these events.”

Taking part

Competing schools will be allowed to field a team of up to four students – it is recommended that teams include at least one pupil from each eligible year group, KS3 in England and Wales; Years 8, 9 and 10 in Northern Ireland; and P7, S1 and S2 in Scotland.

Participants – who may also come from home schooling environments – must have completed 65% of the content available through the existing Cyber Explorers programme and at least one character’s challenges, including Save the City, and it is recommended that at least one competing student has completed all the available missions in the regular programme.

Teachers and home educators applying on behalf of their students can learn more here. The competition itself will run in March 2024.