Teaching Our Children Online Safety

In a bold move by the government, school children across the UK will be offered the chance to learn about IT on a whole new level, in the context of cyber security. Officials have said that they hope the lessons will address a drastic skills shortage in the industry and increase awareness of real world challenges in an increasingly digital world. But how will this grand plan be executed, and what will it do for the children on the future?


Why Teach Cyber Security in Schools?

To be honest, we are surprised that cyber security hasn’t been on the curriculum for a long time now. There has been a general movement towards digital education over the last few years, in a bid to help the new generation of digital natives carve out a nice for themselves in the world. But with the introduction of cyber security lessons, these bright young minds will be given the opportunity to learn cutting edge cyber security skills that will not only help them in the future, but the country too.


The risk that criminals or foreign powers might hack into critical UK computer systems is now ranked as one of the top four threats to national security, with Russia in particular suspected of planning sustained attacks on Western targets. Cyber security is one of this country’s fastest growing industries, with an employment rate of 58,000, but even so it is proving very difficult to recruit people with the right skills. By introducing cyber-security education and training into schools, the government are hoping that the topic will be embraced by younger generations, who will become the cyber security experts of the future.


What Is The Government’s Plan?

While dates for implementation are still sketchy, the government has released some key information about the new scheme. It’s hoped that 5,700 pupils ages 14 and over will spend up to 4 hours a week on the subject of cyber-security in a 5-year pilot of the scheme. Classroom and online teaching, ‘real-world challenges’ and work experience will all be made available from this September. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing £20m for the lessons, which will all be designed to fit around pupils’ current courses and exams.


Steve Elder, 20, who is a cyber security apprentice with BT, told BBC Radio 5 Live that educating young people about the risks and vulnerabilities of the cyber security world would help the UK prepare for the future. He added: “Getting young people involved and getting them taught from a young age will allow them – even in their home environment – to protect themselves, before it has to come to people at a specialist level. “There is perception that cyber security is all about techno geeks who have long hair, glasses, wear heavy metal t-shirts and drink red bull. There are those, and they do an extraordinarily good job. But there is a whole range of other activities… that can appeal to a wide cross section of children, graduates and apprentices, and at the moment they don’t know what is on offer. The more exposure children can get [the more it will] prepare them for a future career and, as that generation needs to understand how to be safe online, you get a double benefit.


Of course, at Indigo IT we believe that educating more people about cyber security and the risks involved in living a life online can only be a good thing. We encounter a lot of highly accomplished professionals whose lack of knowledge on cyber skills and security is frankly terrifying, so they need experts like us to come in and help. For more information about cyber security, or to book your review, get in touch with the team today.