The National Languages Competition by run by GCHQ was a fierce competition with teams from more than 600 schools across the UK putting their language skills to the test and battling it out for the top spots on the national leader board.

Nine John Kyrle students in two teams took part in the competition, November 4–11, which was the first time GCHQ have run a language-based competition on this scale.

The winner would be invited to GCHQ’s Headquarters in Cheltenham to meet the director and to collect their National Language Competition 2022 trophy.

Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence and security organisation responsible for providing signals intelligence and information assurance to the government and armed forces of the United Kingdom.

Students logged into a portal on the GCHQ website using their special code name. They completed different levels of challenges and worked as a team to decipher codes, problem solve and decode familiar and unfamiliar language in order to find the answer for each challenge.

Finding the solution would be rewarded with points to add to the group. The students worked really hard at lunchtime in the language lab and at home, and gained some valuable skills.

“It’s led us to look at different ideas and think outside the box” said JKHS student Charlie. Colby added, “I’ve enjoyed the challenging nature of the tasks”.

The students also understood the value of languages when considering their education and careers in the future.

Max commented: “I enjoyed the challenges with the phonetic alphabet. I’d like to work at GCHQ.” It certainly kept them busy and Max said, “I would recommend this activity as it’s interesting and something to do at lunchtimes”.

It was a closely-fought race right up to the very end with teams pulling out all the stops to crack those codes and solve those language puzzles.

Although they weren’t crowned the ultimate national winners out of the almost 2,000 teams to enter, John Kyrle High Schol staff have said that they deserve to be very proud of their achievements and where they were placed.