Over the last 12 months, we have seen an increase in the use of AI across all sectors. In the education sector, we know that there is much discussion around the use of AI, how it can be policed within schools and how it can be utilised. So where do we currently stand with AI?

Data Protection

Ministers and the DfE are pushing forward the use of AI within education. However, we are now seeing concerns over the use of pupils’ personal data through AI. 

Ministers are understood to be concerned about any use of pupil data to generate profits for private companies without any benefit for schools and pupils.

Baroness Barran, the minister leading on AI for the Department for Education, told Schools Week ministers were “absolutely thinking about all of these issues. It wouldn’t be truthful to say that we’re clear on what principles we will follow, but obviously, we are extremely sensitive and aware of the use of individual or aggregated pupil data. That’s clearly a real priority that we get that right”.

Changing The Landscape

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, was quoted as telling London Tech Week that AI was “transforming the world”, and that education must not be “left behind”.

Niel McLean, the head of education at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, said there were potential benefits to using AI and pupil data.

“If you build up a really large data model, and you train it using the pupil level data, then you can use that data model to help you understand your students as whole people. Everything matters. Their attendance matters, their performance matters, all those sorts of things. You’ve got a better sense of them as individuals. AI can do that. It can just help you just know your learnings better.”

The Big Question

The big question moving forward is “Can education really benefit from AI?”. Currently, there is no firm answer to this. We are sure that in the coming months, ministers will have a better grasp on the technology and offer more in-depth answers to questions across the board.