Education secretary Gillian Keegan has launched a call for evidence on using artificial intelligence (AI) like ChatGPT in schools “to get the best” out of the new technology.
Keegan told the London Tech Week conference she wants to “kick start a conversation” with experts on using generative AI in a “safe and secure way”.
She believes teachers’ day-to-day work could be “transformed” by the emerging tech and help with workload, but that the standard is not yet there.
It comes a mid growing debate about the role AI should play in education – with fears it could be used for cheating by students.
The Department for Education has also today confirmed a new “digital and computing skills education taskforce”, made up of tech experts and led by senior civil servants (see full list below).
Members include Dame Wendy Hall, who developed the microcosm hypermedia system in the mid-1980s, a forerunner to the World Wide Web.
The group will establish what computing and digital skills are needed now and for the future and work with industry experts to “encourage” more young people to consider a career in cyber security, AI or computing, DfE said.
‘We need to understand the opportunities and risks’
Keegan is inviting schools to respond to the call for evidence, which will close on August 23.
Ministers want to get a handle on how generative AI is being and could be used in schools as well as any risks, ethical considerations and training needed for staff.
Keegan told delegates this morning that tech was “reaching further and deeper than ever before”.
“If we are to harness its potential our workforce has to be flexible and ready. Upskilling so that we can use tech to its full potential is one of the challenges that we all face if we are to keep our economy growing and competitive in a global context.”
She said the workforces that were “best equipped in AI with the skills they need will be the ones that ride the next tech wave, and we must make sure that education is not left behind”.
“For that potential to be realised, we – the government, our schools, colleges and universities – need to be able to understand those opportunities, as well as the real risks new technology brings.
“That’s why we want to kick start a conversation with experts from across education and technology to hear their views and learn from their experiences. This will help us make the right decisions to get the best out of generative AI in a safe and secure way.”
DfE previously advised schools they “may wish to review” their homework policies and strengthen cyber security as AI could increase the credibility of attacks.
Ministers committed in March to “convene” experts to work with the education sector to “share and identify best practice and opportunities to improve education and reduce workload using generative AI”.
Exam boards have also published their own guidance on “protecting the integrity of qualifications”. It stated schools should make students do some coursework in class “under direct supervision” to make sure they are not cheating.
The digital and computing skills education taskforce:
- Julia Kinniburgh (chair) – Director General Skills, Department for Education
- Tom Rodden (deputy chair) – Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology
- Dame Muffy Calder – Head of College of Science and Engineering University of Glasgow
- Rashik Parmar MBE – Group CEO of The British Computing Society The Chartered Institute for IT
- Dame Wendy Hall – Professor of Computer Science at Southampton University
- Matthew Scullion – founder and CEO of Matillion
- Lawrence Munro – Global Head of Innovation at NCC Group
- Araceli Venegas-Gomez – CEO and Founder of QURECA