GCHQ: UK spy agency tests kids on puzzle skills in Bletchley Park-themed Christmas card | UK News

Schoolchildren across the country will put their puzzle-solving skills to the test after the UK’s spy agency launched its annual Christmas Challenge.

GCHQ has sent its Christmas card with the challenge, fronted by a rare image of a snow-covered Bletchley Park, to more than 1,000 secondary schools.

It includes seven increasingly complex puzzles that test skills such as codebreaking, maths and analysis, and encourages pupils to work as a team to reveal the final festive message.

A maths-based bonus puzzle has also been included, which has been described as the toughest to date.

Undated handout graphic issued by Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) of GCHQ Director Anne Keast-Butler's first Christmas Card Challenge. The challenge is the toughest to date, and encourages people to pit their wits against schoolchildren with the bonus puzzle.The Christmas card features a rare image of a snow-covered Bletchley Park mansion, discovered in the personal family album of codebreaker Joan Wingfield. Issue date: Thursday December 14, 2023.

GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler said: “Puzzles have been at the heart of GCHQ from the start.

“These skills represent our historic roots in cryptography and encryption and continue to be important to our modern-day mission to keep the country safe.

“GCHQ’s history at Bletchley Park is represented in this year’s Christmas card as a reminder of the role this historic place has played in our wartime efforts but also as home to this year’s AI Safety Summit.

“Our puzzlers have created a challenge which is designed for a mix of minds to solve. Whether you are an analyst, an engineer or a creative, there is a puzzle for everyone. This is one for classmates, family and friends to try to solve together.”

Bletchley Park was the wartime home of GCHQ and the featured image, taken in January 1940, was discovered in the personal family album of Joan Wingfield, who worked on breaking Italian naval codes.

Now in its third year, the challenge aims to provide an insight into GCHQ’s work and inspire young people to study Stem subjects.

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