Gold DofE solve GCHQ Christmas Challenge
December 16, 2022

Rydal Penrhos pupils currently going through their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award solved a national challenge in double-quick time.

Rydal Penrhos School is a Duke of Edinburgh Directly Licensed Centre and offers all three levels of the Award, beginning with Bronze in Year 9, continuing on to Silver in Years 10 & 11, and culminating with the prestigious Gold Award in Years 12 & 13.

Gold Award candidates were given a special task by programme leader Dr Jim Lewis before their well-deserved Christmas break. This centred on a national problem-solving challenge around cyber and national security.

The GCHQ Christmas Challenge is a complex puzzle masterminded by a team of in-house puzzlers and features on the organisation’s annual Christmas card. The card is sent to partners in the UK and around the world who work with GCHQ to counter threats, including hostile state activity, terror groups and organised crime gangs.

Based on the seven disciplines featured in the recently published Puzzles for Spies book, the GCHQ Christmas Challenge tests the lateral thinking, ingenuity and perseverance needed by those working at GCHQ across their missions to keep the country safe.

The challenge features seven fiendish puzzles based on the seven disciplines of languages, engineering, codebreaking, analysis, maths, coding and cyber security – all key skills needed at GCHQ to help keep the country safe.

Pupils worked together on the challenge, where thinking outside the box was imperative. Rydal Penrhos’ enthusiastic Sixth Former managed to complete the task in 27 minutes, which was a fine accomplishment given its difficulty.

Sir Jeremy Fleming, GHCQ Director, said: “From breaking Enigma to harnessing the latest cutting-edge technology, our brilliant people have worked together throughout our history to help keep the country safe.

“This year’s GCHQ Christmas Card Challenge gives an insight into the skills we need every day as part of our mission – from languages to coding.”

A huge well done to our Duke of Edinburgh team on their brilliant efforts to complete the challenge!


Anyone wishing to enquire about Rydal Penrhos School can do so by calling 01492 530155, emailing admissions@rydalpenrhos.com or registering your interest online.

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