KMCSN (Kent & Medway CyberSchools Network)

Working with two key partners, The STEM Hub managed by the Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) and KMCC (Kent & Medway Cyber Cluster), iCSS is setting up the KMCSN (Kent & Medway CyberSchools Network) to build a local community of schools, teachers and other stakeholders to promote pre-university cyber security and online safety education and awareness raising activities. We are recruiting schools and pre-university colleges as organisational members, (current and former) teachers/school staff as individual members, and everyone as supporters, so please read further and join us!

What is KMCSN?

KMCSN is a local network of stakeholders (organisations and individuals) who are interested in pre-university cyber security and online safety education and awareness raising activities for children and school pupils of all ages up to 18 years old, with a geographical focus on pupils attending a local school or pre-university college in Kent and Medway.

KMCSN is a major initiative of iCSS at the University of Kent, forming an essential part of its recognition by the UK Government as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACE-CSE) with a Gold award status (2023-29).

ACE-CSE Gold logo

Why is KMCSN necessary?

Educating children including those below 13 years old is more and more important because the percentage of children using the Internet is now very high (Ofcom, Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2023). This trend has led to increasing concerns among many people such as parents on online safety issues, therefore calling for the urgent needs to education children and young people about cyber security and online safety skills. The recently passed Online Safety Act 2023 by the UK Parliament is a reflection of such urgent needs.

What does KMCSN do?

KMCSN will support local schools/colleges, teachers and other school staff, university researchers and educators active in school outreach activities to better develop and deliver pre-university cyber security and online safety education and awareness raising activities. It aims at making all children in Kent and Medway more cyber ready and resilient future citizens, no matter what career path they will choose in the future.

A major area of activities of KMCSN is to coordinate development of reusable resources for all stakeholders, and another is to “train the trainers” to scale up pre-university cyber security and online safety education and awareness raising activities to benefit more children and school pupils. KMCSN will leverage a CyberChampions scheme to encourage non-experts to help advocate and support its activities, and to train some of them into competent trainers. KMCSN will also organise events and provide free consultancy services, and will raise funding and sponsorships to make itself more self-sustainable in the longer-term future.

As a member of CyberFirst, the programme of the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ) in cyber security skills development for school pupils in the UK, the University of Kent will be able to provide CyberFirst-branded activities for KMCSN. iCSS will manage delivery of such activities by working with university and college students, and members of KMCSN.

What is the short-term timeline?

We hope to have the first group of members recruited by mid December 2023, and then call for a first launch event (hybrid) in January 2024, shortly after the new term starts.

Immediately after a school or a member joins KMCSN, they will be added to a mailing list to facilitate future communications. The first set of special interest groups (SIGs) will be formed by January or February 2024, so that SIG-specific activities can start from Spring 2024. A limited number of hard copies of two books will be donated to the first 30-40 schools joining the KMCSN following a “first-come-first-served” principle (see the Useful Resources section for more details).

All members of KMCSN will be invited to the half-day launch event of KMCC on 14th February 2024, to be held on the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent. Remote participation will be accommodated to allow wider participation. This event will be a platform for KMCSN members to interact with members of KMCS3 (Kent & Medway Cyber Security Student Society), local cyber security researchers and professionals, and local businesses.

The first annual general meeting (AGM) of KMCSN is currently planned in the summer of 2024, at a convenient day for most of its members.

Longer-term plans beyond the summer of 2024 will be made collaboratively with members of KMCSN and other supporting stakeholders.

Who can join KMCSN and how?

There are two types of members:

  • Organisational member: local schools and pre-university colleges in Kent and Medway
  • Individual members: individuals with the relevant skills and knowledge on pre-university cyber security and online safety education and awareness raising.

For the second membership type, we particularly welcome (current and former) school teachers and staff with relevant skills and knowledge including headteachers and other senior school leaders to join.

If your school/college as an organisation or yourself as an individual are interested in joining KMCSN, please fill one of the corresponding forms below:

Useful Resources

A priority area of activities of KMCSN will be around developing useful and reusable resources for schools, teachers and other stakeholders, especially digital resources, design tools and guidelines. iCSS has already produced some resources before KMCSN is established, and will work with members of KMCSN to produce more. Some examples are given below:

  • Ready, Get Set, Connect!: 1,000 hard copies of an online safety book for 7-12-year-olds, to be distributed to the first 30-40 members of KMCSN (primary schools only given the age band) on a “first-come-first-served” basis. The book is produced by Cyberlite Books Pte. Ltd., a Singaporean company active in pre-university cyber security and online safety education. It has been tested extensively at many schools in Singapore and several other countries. A first batch of 70 copies have been distributed to two local schools in Kent, and some very positive feedback has been received. The book’s digital and paper editions are available for direct purchase from Amazon (e.g., this Kindle Edition on Amazon UK).
  • An animated video “How to be a cyber superhero”: Supported by Scriberia and working with a school ICT teacher, two school pupils of 9 years old (one boy and one girl), and a number of researchers at iCSS, we made an animated video for children below 13 years old and schools to understand more about the interdisciplinary nature of cyber security, the diverse career options and the importance of continuous learning and collaboration. This is a free e-resource for all to use, and has been used by iCSS at one local school in Canterbury on the 2023 Safer Internet Day (SID) with very positive outcomes. See a news story about the release of the video in 2022 and another news story about the use of the video on the 2023 SID.
  • A children’s illustrated book “How to be a cyber superhero”: The above animated video was converted to a children’s illustrated book. The digital edition of the book can be downloaded from hereiCSS has printed 200 hard copies to distribute to members of KMCSN. More hard copies can be printed if needed, but we give KMCSN member schools the permission to print the digital edition themselves and keep some copies in their libraries. We plan to publish this more formally with an ISBN via a publisher.

iCSS resources for KMCSN

Other resources we have produced and plan to produce including teaching and training materials for all (as PowerPoint slides), SID resources, play texts and recordings of performances, and game designs (including digital and non-digital games). We welcome members of KMCSN to suggest resources that should be produced and participate in co-production and co-evaluation of such resources. The more people join the production team and help testing developed resources, the more useful resources can be produced!

Terms of References (ToR)

For more formal details of KMCSN, please read the draft terms of references (ToR) (a PDF file). We welcome feedback on how the ToR can be further improved, especially from members of KMCSN.

How did it start?

The idea of KMCSN can be tracked back to 2021, when some iCSS researchers (Dr Virginia Franqueira, Professor Shujun Li, Dr Vince Miller and Ms Krysia Waldock) worked on a project on pre-university of cyber security (and online safety) education, and they produced the following report in early 2022 summarising their findings and recommendations.

iCSS+GFCE

The report reveals many gaps in pre-university of cyber security and online safety education in the UK and worldwide, one of them being a less coordinated approach across different countries, sectors and organisations. This calls for a more community-wide approach so that different stakeholders can work together more effectively and efficiently to benefit all schools and pupils of all ages.

For Kent and Medway as a region, this call is aligned with the recent establishment of the KMCC (Kent & Medway Cyber Cluster), a not-for-profit company aiming at developing the local cyber security ecosystem in Kent and Medway. A major area of activities of KMCC is skills development, including cyber skills development for children and school pupils. Similarly, The STEM Hub managed by the Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) has been working for many years with schools across the country on promoting STEM education at schools, and also see a gap on more coordinated cyber security and online safety education in Kent and Medway.

The STEM Hub+CCCU+KMCC

In late 2023, with support of The STEM Hub and KMCC, iCSS decided to formally set up the KMCSN to co-develop a more local network of schools, pre-university colleges, teachers and other stakeholders to deliver more coordinated cyber security and online safety education and awareness raising activities in Kent and Medway. It is also our hope that experiences gained from KMCSN can be shared with other regions of the UK and other countries to benefit children and school pupils elsewhere.

How to contact us?

If you have any questions or queries, please feel free to contact the iCSS Outreach Lead who is chairing the Executive Group of KMCSN. This role is currently held by Professor Shujun Li, Director and Outreach Lead of iCSS.

KMCSN’s Executive Group can be reached via email kmcsn-admin@kent.ac.uk. If you prefer calling us via phone or visiting us in person, please find Professor Shujun Li’s contact details on his web page.