From education to employment

Government called on to take a lead on the implementation of artificial intelligence in schools or risk increasing the educational and skills divide

open books

A new paper commissioned by the Centre for Progressive Policy looks at the opportunities for using AI tools in schools, careers advice and lifelong learning.

AI in Education: can it raise us up or will it divide us further?cautions that without government interventions, the positive impact that EdTech could make will be lost and instead the attainment gap will grow wider.

Skills demands in the 21st century economy are changing the nature of opportunity for people, communities and AI is having a significant impact on the labour market.

Educational attainment gaps in the UK have remained little changed in the last two decades and the impact of COVID-19 during the pandemic only proved to show further how restrictions on access to education and digital learning adversely impact learners from more deprived backgrounds.

The role of AI has been heralded by some as holding the key to improve the quality of education, reduce educational inequalities and help raise living standards. However, as this report highlights, if the government doesn’t step up and provide the lead role in implementation then instead, as recent history has shown us, new technologies often fall short of expectations when it comes to delivering better education outcomes. Inconsistent take up only seeks to divide educational attainment further and benefit those already well off.

The thought piece sets out propositions for the government to consider:

1. Personalised AI tutoring tools to be adopted widely across the education system accompanied by the creation of new national standards on contracting to protect privacy and enable monitoring of impact.

The paper identifies a number of areas where governments can set the standards to encourage safe adoption at the necessary scale and speed including: ensuring trusted bodies for source content, standardising contract terms for protected data, government guidance on available products on the market, supporting professional development so schools can confidently use the produces, enabling scientific and regulatory investigation into the impact of AI education products and incentivising the market shaping to make sure the technology suites the UK market.

2. AI to be used to personalise and integrate government services that help people with careers advice, lifelong learning and finding work.

Interim CEO, Centre for Progressive Policy, Ben Franklin says:

“Roger Taylor’s considered take on the role of AI within the education system takes a cautiously optimistic view about the impact of AI.

The causes of educational attainment gaps are widely known with education outcomes shaped heavily by economic, social, and physical environments in which children are raised. For AI adoption to be considered successful, it must be used in a way that helps tackle these attainment gaps ratherthan exacerbate them.

There needs to be a coordinated approached between the public and private sectors, where government plays an active role in creating new markets where appropriate, and in ensuring monitoring and regulation to secure high standards and accessibility.

Report author, Roger Taylor says:

“AI renews hopes that EdTech can significantly improve the efficiency and efficacy of the education system.  Personalised AI tutoring tools should be adopted across the education system with the capability to monitor their impact. Government has a choice about how we adopt this technology and what steps we need to take to try and ensure this powerful tool is as effective in supporting everyone through their education pathway and into the right career choices. The impact is human and economic.”

Related Articles