Harnessing the benefits of AI in education

  • 24th April 2024

Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden; and Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, host EdTech roundtable in the heart of government

Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden; and Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, jointly hosted a roundtable to better harness the benefits cutting-edge technologies like AI could have for the education sector.

Teachers, education professionals, and technology companies came together to discuss how revolutionary technologies, such as AI, can be leveraged to boost education outcomes for British children.

Roundtable attendees included leaders from across the education and tech sector, such as:

  • Michael Lynas, UK country director at Duolingo
  • Riaz Moola, chief executive of HyperionDev
  • Daniel Emmerson, academic affairs lead at Goodnotes
  • Ian Cunningham, chief technology officer at TeachMateAI
  • Gemma Gwilliam, head of digital learning, education, and innovation at Portsmouth Education Partnership
  • Phillip Hedger, chief executive of the LEO Academy Trust
  • Josh Goodrich, chief executive and founder at StepLab
  • Jon Hutchinson, director of training and development at the Reach Foundation
  • Sir Anthony Seldon, headteacher at Epsom College and co-founder of AI in education
  • Anna Artemyeva, Google for Education UK & Ireland lead
  • Jen King, Microsoft UK schools engagement lead

AI is already being utilised across public services, and research conducted by the Department for Education over the last year has shown that educational professionals are already embracing the opportunities offered by this emerging technology, such as reducing the amount of time teachers spent on administrative jobs to allow them to spend more time delivering valuable lessons to students.

This technology also has the power to tailor education programmes to pupils and rapidly drive up attainment by making learning more individualised and accessible and opening up new opportunities.

The Department for Education has invested £2m in the Oak National Academy to create new teaching tools using AI, and the results of a hackathon hosted in collaboration with Faculty AI, the National Institute of Teaching, held in November will be published in due course.

Recognising that innovators across the education sector are already using generative AI, the roundtable shared learnings and best practice in the sector.

Attendees also considered the challenges of AI, the need for robust evidence, and the importance of safe usage.

This includes the need to set standards, ensure essential technology infrastructure is in place, and support education institutions to equip themselves to mitigate the risks of implementing new technologies.

And the session reinforced the importance of government, technology experts, teachers, and education leaders working together to safely transform education in a way that puts students first.

Dowden said: “Rapidly-advancing technologies, including AI, are going to change the way we live and work. That is why we are listening to, and working with, the sector on what technology means for education, to understand how we can draw on the advantages of AI to benefit pupils and teachers.

“Having the right safety measures and controls remains an utmost priority, and we are already at the forefront of AI safety, convening the world for the first global safety summit last year.”

Keegan added: “Artificial intelligence is already changing the way we work and learn, but we need to understand its risks and challenges.

“Bringing together tech experts in the field with teachers and education leaders is crucial if we are to take advantage of this emerging technology, and I look forward to hearing from those on the ground about how we can continue to lead the way in our approach to AI in education.”

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