12 May 2021 

Neurodivergent pupils at Levenmouth Academy have taken part in a four week taster course in cyber security after it was found that many were likely to have natural abilities in that area.

Funded by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Government, under the strategic framework for a cyber resilient Scotland, the introduction to cyber security course was delivered by lecturers at Fife College with pupils who were autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic or diagnosed with ADHD encouraged to attend.

Evidence has suggested that those who are nerurodivergent, in particular those with autism, are likely to have the aptitudes needed for cyber security roles.

And with SDS also identifying a gap in support for these students, a fund was created to help create a short course about the protection of computer systems and networks from information disclosure, and digital forensics.

Delivered with training and support from Autism Network Scotland, Fife College lecturers then gave a series of online lessons to the group of S3 pupils from Levenmouth highlighting the skills they had that would make them suited to a career in cyber security.

After the successful delivery of the course, the plan is now to extend this opportunity to other schools across the Fife region.

Iain Hawker, Assistant Principal at Fife College said:

“At Fife College we felt we could be doing more to support neurodivergent students in the region.

“We want to bridge the gap between school and college, and highlight the careers that might be available to them with the skills and qualities that they have.

“Cyber security is one industry in which these students can flourish, and with the current digital skills gap in Scotland there are a lot of opportunities in this area."

Michelle Sweeney, Inclusion Manager at Fife College said:

“It was great to work with this group of pupils at Levenmouth Academy and to increase their awareness of the opportunities they have available to them.

“We hope in future this can lead to us engaging with neurodivergent students across the region so we can increase their chances of reaching a positive destination following their education.”  

Claire Gillespie, Digital Technologies Sector Skills Manager at Skills Development Scotland said:

“The strength of this programme demonstrates a real commitment from Fife College to working with neurodiverse students and providing the support needed to help them reach their potential.

“We know that employers in sectors such as digital technologies and cyber security really value diversity in their workplaces as it makes better teams and leads to improved products and services.

“It’s very important that we continue enhancing the support available so that every young person regardless of their circumstances has the opportunity to explore the fulfilling and rewarding careers available in the digital sector.”

Corrie McLean, a Training Officer at Autism Network Scotland said:

“Autism Network Scotland was delighted to work with Fife College.

"Fife College’s values around supporting neurodivergent young people align with ours, and we were eager to help build capacity with lecturers involved.

"They went into this programme with a clearer understanding of neurodiversity and how small adjustments to their practice can transform a young person’s experience of learning.

"We are excited to see how this programme grows, and to see more neurodivergent young people explore a career in cyber security."