From education to employment


  • £2 million investment in Oak National Academy to improve and expand AI tools for teachers
  • Work to build on promising early experiments and to support Government’s mission to drive down teacher workloads
  • Investment marks the first step towards providing every teacher with a personalised AI lesson-planning assistant
  • News comes ahead of Government’s first hackathon to explore AI opportunities in education, as well as UK AI Safety Summit

Every teacher in England is set to benefit from new resources powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), supporting them to plan lessons and build classroom quizzes, and helping to reduce workloads. 

The Government is investing up to £2 million in Oak National Academy, which was established to support teachers with high-quality curriculum resources online, to create new teaching tools using AI – marking the first step towards providing every teacher with a personalised AI lesson-planning assistant.

This follows a pilot of an AI-powered quiz builder and lesson planner. Thousands of teachers have already signed up to use these tools, helping them to create individualised content that is tailored to teaching their pupils and based on Oak’s high-quality curriculum content.

This new cash boost will help Oak to improve these tools further before making them available to teachers across England for free.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“AI has extraordinary potential to reform our education system for the better, with considerable value for both teachers and students.

“Oak National Academy’s work to harness AI to free up the workload for teachers is a perfect example of the revolutionary benefits this technology can bring.

“This investment will play a defining role in giving our children and the next generation of students a better education and a brighter future.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said:

“Throughout my career, I have seen the positive impact that technology can have, which is why it is great we’re harnessing the potential of AI and supporting Oak National Academy to develop new resources for teachers.

“Whether it’s drafting lesson plans or producing high-quality teaching resources, I am confident that by tapping into the benefits of AI we will be able to reduce teachers’ workloads so that they can focus on what they do best – teaching and supporting their pupils.”

Teachers have provided positive feedback from the initial testing, noting the tools’ ability to help them to speed up planning and refine existing materials.

One Year 4 teacher from Berkshire, who used the Quiz Designer stated: “Oak’s AI tool has massively improved the quality and variety of quizzes I can create. And it’s much faster than making them myself from scratch.”

A secondary school teacher in Devon stated:

“Oak’s AI lesson planner offers a really helpful starting point if stuck or low on inspiration and I was particularly impressed at how good it is at highlighting common misconceptions.”

With 30,000 teachers already using Oak every week, the resources will support teachers to save valuable time on planning.  

Building on Oak’s commitment to make resources available on Open Government Licence, the project will also provide access to Oak’s curriculum resources for edtech companies experimenting with AI to build from this high-quality content. This means that any school, publisher or AI developer can be confident that any content produced through these tools will be accurate, safe, and high-quality.

Oak National Academy Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Matt Hood OBE, said:

“Teachers spend hours each week searching for resources and planning their lessons. Oak National Academy is already helping cut workload with our free, high-quality teaching resources, but we believe we can supercharge this by harnessing safe AI – giving teachers even more scope to adapt their resources and freeing them up to spend more time directly with their pupils.

“We’re excited to build on our initial work and start to develop improved AI lesson planning tools, bringing the benefits to even more schools, and to help other organisations to innovate and create their own AI products, built off our safe, high-quality educational materials.”

Today’s (Monday 30 October) announcement coincides with the start of a two-day AI hackathon hosted by the Department for Education, in collaboration with Faculty AI, the National Institute of Teaching, and the AI in Schools Initiative. The event will bring together teachers and leaders from schools and trusts across England to experiment with AI.

Over the coming months, the Government will continue to work with teachers, and experts on the Workload Taskforce to develop solutions to minimise the time teachers spend working beyond their teaching hours. This will support its ambition to reduce working hours for teachers and leaders by five hours per week.

Next month (November 2023), the Department for Education will also publish the results of its AI call for evidence. Launched to gather views from educational professionals on the risks, ethical considerations, and possibilities of AI in education, the results will support the government’s work to identify AI’s potential and ensure it advances in a safe, reasonable, and fair way.

Sector Response

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“While we agree with the idea of developing AI to support teachers and pupils, we have to question the way in which this is being done.

“Is the £2 million investment in Oak National Academy – which is equivalent to employing around 40 teachers – in addition to the £43 million of taxpayers’ money already allocated to Oak over the 2022/23 to 2024/25 financial years? How will this money be spent? And what efforts has the government made to develop this technology through the UK’s existing education technology industry?

“These are important questions because schools and colleges are struggling to stay afloat as a result of a decade of government underfunding and they deserve to have clarity on exactly how and why this money is being spent on Oak.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“There is no doubt that AI has potential to reduce teacher workload, but it also comes with a number of risks, and we need to be very careful before jumping in head-first. AI is not a silver bullet, and we need to be mindful of its limitations.

“More importantly, the government needs to work far more closely with the whole profession when it comes to AI. There are all sorts of training and ethical considerations that the government should be doing more to support schools with.”

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