Code-breakers decrypt cipher

Four teams of Bedales students from Block 4 to 6.2 have entered the National Cipher Challenge, a code-breaking competition run by the University of Southampton with prizes funded by a range of prestigious institutions including GCHQ, IBM and Trinity College, Cambridge. Each week, the teams must crack a series of codes which allows them to remain in the competition and advance to the next challenge. This week’s meeting of the Sixth Form Maths Society was a special one to coincide with the challenge. More than 20 sixth formers gathered for an enthusiastic discussion of such esoteric encryption techniques as concealment, substitution and transposition. The conversation also moved on to the ENIGMA code, quantum cryptography, RSA keys and the Navajo Code Talkers. Most of the students had managed to decrypt the cipher RNG HZY VWV ZVG HXZ SNO. For the solution, check the Maths department’s Twitter stream.

By Michael Truss, Head of Maths


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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