DfE says schools are optimistic about using GenAI

Education professionals and AI experts are optimistic about the future benefits of  Generative AI, according to the Department for Education (DfE).

The department launched a Call for Evidence on the use of GenAI in education and had over 560 responses from all around the education system. The report, which will be used to inform future policy on AI, found early adoption of GenAI across the sector is high and mainly positive. 

The most common application among teachers was using GenAI to create educational resources, to plan lessons and to streamline administrative tasks. Some have also started to experiment with it to automate marking and generate feedback on students’ work. 

For teachers, the main benefits listed include freeing up time and enhancing teaching effectiveness. Reported benefits for pupils include enhanced engagement and improved accessibility and inclusion. 

Areas of concern among respondents include an over-reliance on GenAI tools among pupils and data protection and privacy risks. For a minority there was also an underlying fear of GenAI replacing face-to-face teaching.  

Most acknowledged that a lack of skills, knowledge or access to technology hindered their or their colleagues’ ability to use GenAI tools effectively. 

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. 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.”

Last month, the DfE announced an investment of up to £2 million in Oak National Academy to develop new AI teaching tools that can help plan lessons, build classroom quizzes and reduce workloads. 

DfE has also published the results of its Technology in Schools Survey, which collated responses from 1,877 schools. It sets out how technology is used in schools and where they need support to use technology effectively.

To improve access to technology, DfE 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.

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