AI could mark pupils’ work and act as a ‘personal tutor’, says education minister

Exclusive: Schools minister says the government recognises the dangers of involved with AI but also want to “harness its magic”

Kate Devlin
Politics and Whitehall Editor
Wednesday 14 June 2023 05:03 BST
AI could ‘kill many humans’ within two years, says Sunak adviser

Artificial Intelligence “tutors” in schools could close the attainment gap between rich and poor students, an education minister has suggested.

Baroness Barran, the schools minister, said AI had the potential to cut teacher workloads and give pupils greater feedback on their work.

Writing exclusively in The Independent, she suggested it could “do more”.

“Could AI help children with special needs and disabilities learn more intuitively? Could it ease a teacher’s administrative burden by doing the heavy lifting on routine tasks like marking? Could it help reduce the attainment gap for disadvantaged children by giving them a free ‘personal tutor?’”

Ministers, she added, recognise the dangers involving AI but also want to “harness its magic”.

It comes just a week after an adviser to Rishi Sunak warned the technology could help produce deadly weapons that “kill humans” in just two years’ time.

The education secretary, Gillian Keegan, will today say more work is needed to understand the risks AI could pose to schools, colleges and universities.

Ministers want education leaders and technology experts to put forward ideas on how to use AI “in a safe and secure way” in education.

It comes after guidance from the UK’s major exam boards suggested that pupils should do some coursework “in class under direct supervision” amid fears the rise of AI could prompt widespread cheating.

In a speech to technology and education experts, Ms Keegan will say: “AI is going to transform the world around us and help grow the economy.

It comes after guidance from the UK’s major exam boards suggested that schools should make pupils do some of their coursework “in class under direct supervision” following concerns over cheating using AI.

ChatGPT is a form of generative AI that can respond to questions in a human-like manner and understand the context of follow-up queries, much like in human conversations, as well as being able to compose essays if asked – sparking fears it could be used by students to complete assignments.

Last month, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, called for AI to be part of teacher training courses to help staff understand how students are using AI.

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