Blog post

Hanley Castle High School - from CyberFirst to Radio 4

Created:  11 Feb 2018
Updated:  11 Feb 2018
Author:  Hanley Castle High School
Part of:  The NCSC, New talent
Hanley Castle High School Girls with a large pizza

We arrived at the station relatively early, effervescent despite the bracing January chill and thrilled about the adventure that lay ahead of us. The journey was, if nothing else, entertaining, with song trivia and a brief run-through of the events to come; we were absolutely ecstatic!

We got a tube from the train station to the hotel. Two of our party had never been on the underground before, they found it a simultaneously thrilling and petrifying experience, but they have both said that they would happily travel by tube again.

On the Sunday evening, after having unpacked our possessions (and done a fair amount of excited squealing!) we trekked the small distance to a local restaurant for our briefing by the NCSC team. Despite the pizza being larger than each of our faces, we all enjoyed the beautiful food whilst discussing our experience of reaching the competition final last year.

We all felt the best part was working as a team and being exposed to lots of different challenges that we’d never faced before. We discovered we could do things that we didn’t think we could do and that gave us a lot of confidence.

The competition as a whole was an amazing experience and we have stayed together as a team to this day. All our skills are developing further and it’s just brilliant that we’ve had the support to be able to do that. For instance, we went to the CyberFirst Defenders course at Warwick University. It built on all the new knowledge we gained through the competition and has broadened our horizons even further.

After enjoying the evening with the NCSC team, we retreated to our rooms for what we thought was going to be an early night. However our night lengthened due to our wondering thoughts about our future experience at the radio station. We brought with us some face masks, which we enjoyed applying to each other, whilst obsessing over our outfits and hair for the day ahead (did we mention we were going on a radio show?). A night filled with music and laughter was the perfect end to our first day!

To get to the BBC Broadcasting House in time for our slot on the Today programme, we had to set our alarms for 5am. On arrival at the studio, we seized the opportunity to perform some photo shoots with the magnificent BBC Broadcasting House, magical in the early morning light. After posing with a Dalek, which was clearly the most incredible occurrence of the trip, we were in our studio seats with headphones on for a brief interview with John Humphrys.

Hanley Castle High School Girls entering Broadcasting House, meeting a Dalek and in the Today studio in Radio 4

We were very happy to help promote this year’s CyberFirst Girls Competition. We want to do all we can to fan the spark of interest in cyber security into a flame! This is our shot at helping to establish a more equal gender balance in the work force.

Our advice to all the girls taking part in the competition is keep going and don’t give up even when it gets difficult! It’s probably the most exciting experience we’ve had in our lives –  it’s so unique – and it’s a big opportunity to be seized.

Before going home, we were invited to tour the National Cyber Security Centre and hear from some of the staff. The experience was fascinating, and the views from the office breath-taking.

Despite nearly missing our already delayed train, we collapsed with relief onto the seats, where we recounted the experience in great detail until we arrived home, throwing in the odd bag of sweets and musical reference.

We cannot thank the NCSC team enough for the myriad of opportunities which we were provided with.

There are a million things we haven’t done, but just you wait.

Hanley Castle High School
CyberFirst Girls Competition team, Finalists 2017

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