PM plans investment in AI classroom tools to reduce teacher workloads

30 October 2023, 11:04

School stock
School stock. Picture: PA

Ministers have claimed the funding will pave the way for a personalised AI assistant in every classroom.

Artificial intelligence tools will be rolled out in classrooms across England to help reduce teachers’ workloads, the Prime Minister has said.

Rishi Sunak has announced a £2 million investment in new classroom technology, including AI-designed lesson plans and quizzes.

The funding will be used by online classroom resource Oak National Academy to improve the technologies for use in schools across England, before they are rolled out for teachers.

It follows a pilot of the tools in some schools, testing how they work and measuring their ability to reduce teachers’ workloads.

Ministers have claimed the funding will pave the way for a personalised AI assistant in every classroom.

The Prime Minister 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.

The announcement comes ahead of the AI safety summit, a gathering of global leaders due to start on Wednesday aimed at setting ground rules for the safe use of the emerging technology.

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.”

Education minister Robert Halfon told Times Radio: “What this is about is making life easier for teachers so they can spend more time in the classroom and less time doing burdensome administrative tasks because AI helps with data analytics, it helps teachers have, literally, a personal assistant at their fingertips.

“It helps enhance collaboration because it allows for professional development and sharing best practice, and we are investing £2 million into the Oak Academy to help provide teachers with the best of AI, developing curriculum, helping them with lesson plans and ensuring that they can spend more time in the front line and the classroom doing what they do best.”

By Press Association

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