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Cyber security lessons for 70,000 primary school pupils

At the launch of the Junior Bring IT On programme at PwC in Belfast are Joseph’s PS Carryduff P7 pupils Joseph Doherty, Olivier Watson and Jessica Gwynne

ALMOST 70,000 primary school pupils in Northern Ireland are set to be engaged in cyber security lessons as part of a new initiative being delivered by IT3Sixty and local IT companies.

The Junior Bring IT On programme, which is supported by PwC, will work with 840 primary schools to enhance young people's understanding of how to stay safe online, and to enthuse them at an early age to consider a career in IT.

Every P5-7 pupil in the will receive a 12-page cyber awareness activity booklet and certificate, while every teacher will receive a lesson plan with a variety of activities to promote digital awareness and enable them to deliver the learning.

Over 1,200 teachers will be provided with free access to an online cyber security accreditation programme to be able to deliver the initiative.

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “I welcome this initiative which aims to encourage digital engagement by highlighting the benefits of getting online to our young people and at the same time importantly giving them the skills to do this safely.”

Clair Gheel, director of IT3Sixty, says that these are essential skills for all young people.

“From a very young age, we are all now digital citizens, and that means young people need to understand how important it is to protect themselves and their information online, and to treat others online as they would in the playground,” she said.

“Understanding the huge career potential in the IT sector is also extremely valuable, and we hope that young people engaged in the programme will develop skills and enthusiasm that will benefit them and the local IT sector well into the future.”

Paul Terrington, regional chairman of PwC, said: "As a leader in cyber fraud detection and protection, protecting our client's business and personal property from internet fraud and theft is a huge technical challenge. So we understand why keeping children safe online is a major concern to parents teachers and communities."

Junior Bring IT On ( www.juniorbio.com) will be delivered over the next 12 months, and as well as PwC, industry and academic organisations supporting the programme include Allstate, Belfast Met, Citi, Liberty IT, North West Regional College, Relay and Ulster University.

Issues covered by the programme in games, puzzles, lessons and tasks include: understanding your digital footprint; making safe, responsible and informed choices online; privacy; and being a good digital citizen.

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