Education professionals, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology specialists, and ed-tech experts are embracing the opportunities offered by AI in the education sector, according to the results of the government’s first ever Call for Evidence on Artificial Intelligence in Education, published today.
Results show that many respondents recognise the benefits of AI and some are already using AI tools to streamline administrative tasks, create subject-specific resources and provide personalised support for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Other opportunities cited include the creation of more interactive lessons, and additional support for learners for whom English is an additional language.
The report will provide a base to inform future policy on AI, and the government is already supporting the sector to realise the potential of AI in education.
In October, the government announced an additional investment of up to £2 million in Oak National Academy to create new teaching tools using AI, followed by a two-day hackathon hosted by the Department for Education in collaboration with Faculty AI, the National Institute of Teaching, which brought together teachers, leaders, students and technology experts to experiment with AI.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:
“Artificial intelligence is here to stay and it’s already changing the way we work and learn. To take advantage of this transformative technology, it’s crucial we get our approach to it right.
“It’s heartening that many education professionals are already seeing the tangible benefits of AI – something I witnessed myself at our AI hackathon earlier this month – while remaining alert to its risks.
“The results of the call for evidence give us a crucial evidence base to inform our future work on AI, helping us make the right decisions to get the best out of generative AI in a safe and secure way.”
Michael Webb, Director of Technology and Analytics at Jisc, said:
“It’s encouraging to see from this report how many institutions are already embracing AI, and how staff are using it in creative ways to improve education.
“The findings also help us understand the types of support and guidance staff need in order to make the best use of the technology going forward. This will enable us to ensure that the right skills training is in place, along with guidelines around safe, ethical use of AI.”
The Technology in Schools Survey, also published today, sets out how technology is used in schools and where they need support to use technology effectively. To improve access to technology, the Department for Education is investing up to £200 million to upgrade schools that fall below Wi-Fi connectivity standards in 55 Education Investment Areas, and working with commercial providers to enable all schools to have access to a high-speed connection by 2025.
Morgan Briggs, Policy Research and Strategy Manager at The Alan Turing Institute, said:
“The use of generative AI in the education sector is a critically important area that deserves significant attention, and we welcome the Department for Education’s continued focus on it.
“There are multiple ways in which generative AI could benefit the sector – but simultaneously, there are concerns and risks that must be addressed. These include dependency on commercial generative AI, the possible infringement of rights, the spread of bias and misinformation, and plagiarism.
“To realise the full potential of these tools, it will be crucial to engage children and young people in the development and deployment of generative AI in education.”
Sir Antony Seldon, founder of AI in Education and Headmaster of Epsom College, said:
“It is great that the Department for Education is being proactive in its approach to artificial intelligence.
“It’s crucial that the government is alive to the risks and opportunities AI offers to the education sector, and this Call for Evidence, which we were pleased to contribute to, will form an essential part of that.”
While respondents are broadly optimistic about the benefits AI could bring, they also recognise risks around harmful content, intellectual property protection and concerns about accuracy.
The Government’s AI Regulation White Paper set out the first steps towards establishing a regulatory framework for AI, including working with UK regulators on how they might need to regulate the technology given its cross-cutting nature and impact on various sectors, including education.
The government committed to evaluate and adapt the UK’s regulatory approach as AI evolves, and the insights from this call for evidence will continue to shape policy in this emerging area.
Earlier this year, the UK also convened the world’s first AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, which brought together world leaders, businesses, and civil society to build consensus on international action to ensure safety at the frontier of AI.
This drive to harness the potential of AI comes as new analysis is published by the government on the impact of AI on Jobs and Training.
The report illustrates how the education system and employers will need to adapt to ensure the workforce has the skills necessary to benefit from this emerging technology, which the Department for Education is supporting through a number of training opportunities, including skills bootcamps, apprenticeships and the Lifelong Learning Entitlement.
The Department for Education has also today published research trialling the use of AI to explore how it could be used to support the civil service by providing summaries and analysis. AI was used to analyse the 38 Local Skills Improvements Plans as part of a pilot project with Faculty AI.
In spring, the Department for Education will publish the results of the hackathon, further supporting the department’s work to understand how AI could safely transform the education sector.
Graham Glass, CEO and founder of CYPHER Learning:
‘As a lecturer I put in long, tedious hours of preparation – again and again. AI is starting to change that. But to “truly realise the potential of AI in education” great teachers must be empowered with more than automation. The potential for AI tools as copilots is significant. AI can do 80% of the heavy lifting to generate sequenced lesson plans, syllabi, reading lists, and assessments, freeing teachers to finesse the final 20% to really drive home their message. These can be repetitive tasks that consume too many teacher hours and promote stress and burnout.
For GenAI to truly revolutionise education, however, educators can and must review and edit output, and exert their own good judgement against AI hallucinations, but the positives can be transformative. It can bring creativity and life back into the classroom, allowing teachers to create engaging multimedia and gamified courses that really capture students’ imaginations.
The vision is clear: access to assistive AI tools and resources at scale can elevate teachers and make them more effective, while heightening the learning experience for students. With that in mind, why are under resourced teachers not being given greater access to technologies like AI to help them achieve it?’