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Teachers and school leaders from across England are set to participate in an artificial intelligence (AI) hackathon as part a two-day event to experiment with technology and identify how

AI could supercharge education.

Artificial intelligence is already having an impact on society, helping to grow the economy and deliver better public services. In education, the technology has huge potential ranging from supporting teachers with administrative tasks to providing personalised feedback for students on their work.  

In a bid to unlock these benefits, the Department for Education, in collaboration with Faculty AI, the National Institute of Teaching, and the AI in Schools Initiative, is set to host an AI hackathon in London on 30 and 31 of October which will bring together teachers and leaders from schools and trusts across England, including Harris Federation, Star Academies, Outwood Grange Academies Trust and Inspiration Trust.

Participants will be asked to experiment with AI to test its potential in several scenarios, for example whether it could write a lesson plan or accurately mark exam papers.

Secondary school pupils will also be invited to share their experiences and knowledge. The best of the solutions will be shared with the department’s workload reduction taskforce and a demo of the tools created will be made available for schools across the country to test and to use, supporting the government’s ambition to reduce working hours for teachers and leaders by five hours per week.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said:

During my career in the tech business, I have seen innovation in action.

Artificial intelligence has huge potential to transform the way we do things, from providing personalised support for pupils to helping tackle teacher workload.

But to reap the benefits in education, we need to improve our understanding of how AI works and safely. Participants of the hackathons will be supported by Faculty AI and the National Institute of Teaching to experiment and put forward solutions, paving the way for the future.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan said:

This hackathon will help explore how AI can be harnessed to revolutionise education.

We want to see teachers using AI to speed up administrative tasks and planning so that they are free to focus on the things which make the biggest difference to students.

We are also equipping the next generation with the AI skills they need for the future, with our AI conversion courses helping students gain technical knowledge in this transformative technology so they can compete and thrive in the workplace.

Tom Nixon, Director of Government at Faculty AI, said:

Artificial intelligence is the defining technology of our generation - and now is the time to safely bring its vast benefits to schools.

From creating timetables and lesson resources, to supporting students with personalised feedback, AI has the power to cut workloads and improve young people’s education.

The hackathon will be an important step in moving from rhetoric to reality, and we’re excited to help get these tools into classrooms.

Dr Calum Davey, Executive Director of Research at the National Institute of Teaching said:

We want to see a school system that nurtures the teachers and school leaders who are making a difference for children every day. Emerging AI technology may help with their work, but if it’s going to be useful and have an impact then schools need to lead identification of problems and development of solutions.

We are proud to work with Faculty to connect the experts in AI technology with the experts in the classroom. Our researchers will be listening to those involved and sharing what we learn.

The UK is already a world leader in AI, spearheading the safe and responsible development of the technology. Ahead of the UK AI Safety Summit on 1 and 2 November, this work will mark an important step in ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of AI globally.

As part of its work in this space, the Department for Education launched a call for evidence in June to gather views from educational professionals on risks, ethical considerations, and possibilities of AI in education. The results of the call for evidence will be published in November 2023 and alongside the results from this month’s hackathons, will support the government’s work to identify AI’s potential and ensure it advances in a safe, reasonable, and fair way. Photo by mikemacmarketing, Wikimedia commons.