Skip to content ↓

Manchester High School for Girls

A Cracking Challenge for Olivia

J6 student, Olivia, is celebrating after coming 11th in a National Cipher Challenge organised by the University of Southampton Mathematics Department in conjunction with GCHQ. 

Since its conception in 2002, the competition has attracted a wide following including Cabinet Ministers, media scientists, journalists, authors and actors.  This year saw 6,250 students solving 20 ciphers over a 10-week period in a bid to unravel the mystery of “The Lighthouse Conspiracy”.  

Olivia said, “In order to gain maximum points, the codes needed to be completed within 24 hours, which meant I had to really focus to ensure both accuracy and speed.”  She continued, “Some of the ciphers were really tricky, especially the final one!  We were given four weeks to complete the last code and I managed to crack it on New Year’s Day, so it was a good way to begin 2022!”

The Sixth Former first developed a passion for codebreaking in Year 11 when Head of Computing, Mr Chadwick, introduced her to the skill.  Since then, she has demonstrated an aptitude for deciphering codes and now hopes to study computer science at university before pursuing a career in cybersecurity.