Essex school unable to open on first day after half term after 'significant cyber attack'

Hackers have carried out a "significant" cyber attack on an Essex school leaving staff unable to access systems. The Billericay School, in School Road, was subject to the attack during the half-term holiday.

Headteacher Patrick Berry told parents about the incident in a letter sent on Friday (May 31). The letter said the attack means pupils will not be able to attend school on Monday (June 3) whilst investigations and resolution work continues.

Mr Berry told parents the school had been locked out of their systems "by a complex encryption". They also said that the school was currently unable to "operate the school safely and effectively".

READ MORE: Residents slam plans for new cycle path across busy Chelmsford road with crime and traffic concerns

ALSO READ: Ugley murder victims named and pictured as mum and son for the first time

The school will be closed on Monday to students in Years 7 to 9 and Year 12. Students will be required to use remote learning platforms.

Year 10 students who are on work experience placements should attend these as scheduled. Those in the year group who were due to attend school should return on Tuesday (June 4).

All public exams and revision classes for those in Years 11, 12 and 13 will proceed as normal, the school said. Students eligible for free school meals will be able to collect packed lunches from the main school reception between 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Mr Berry's letter said: "During the half term holiday, the school was unfortunately the subject of a significant cyber/malware attack. You may have read in the national press that this kind of attack on schools and other public institutions is becoming increasingly common.

"Whilst the school has taken all of the precautionary measures to deal with any such cyber threat, with industry standard firewalls, firmware and malware security, this attack has resulted in all of the school IT system being compromised and inaccessible by a complex encryption.

"Whilst our IT support staff are working hard to resolve the issue and have already made significant progress in restoring the required systems, the situation as it stands is significantly affecting our ability to operate the school safely and effectively."

It added: "Whilst I appreciate the additional strain this will place upon families, we must be sure that the school can operate safely and effectively in wake of this significant critical incident. I will write to you again next week to share with you an update on this incident and on the RAAC mitigation work that is currently being undertaken on the school site."

Get more news from EssexLive straight to your inbox for FREE