Rishi Sunak announces aim to have AI in every classroom to reduce teacher workloads

Schools have spoken of the struggle to recruit and retain teachers as the job gets more and more difficult. Credit: Press Association
The aim for AI to reduce teacher workloads. Credit: PA

A plan to use artificial intelligence to reduce teachers' workloads has been announced by Rishi Sunak, with the aim of one day having a personalised assistant in every classroom in England.

The £2 million funding will be used by online classroom resource Oak National Academy to improve the technologies for use in schools across England, before they are rolled out for teachers.

It follows a pilot of the tools in some schools, testing how they work and measuring their ability to reduce teachers’ workloads.

Ministers have claimed the funding will pave the way for a personalised AI assistant in every classroom.

Rishi Sunak announced the investment on Monday. Credit: PA

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, questioned if it was a good use of the money, saying £2m could be used to hire 40 teachers.

He said he agreed with developing AI to support teachers he pointed out £43m had already been allocated to Oak National Academy for other projects.

He said: "These are important questions because schools and colleges are struggling to stay afloat as a result of a decade of government underfunding and they deserve to have clarity on exactly how and why this money is being spent on Oak."

Oak National Academy was set up during the Covid pandemic to create online resources for teachers who were carrying out classes remotely.

It became an independent public body in 2022

The prime minister said: "AI has extraordinary potential to reform our education system for the better, with considerable value for both teachers and students.

"Oak National Academy’s work to harness AI to free up the workload for teachers is a perfect example of the revolutionary benefits this technology can bring."

The announcement comes ahead of the AI safety summit, a gathering of global leaders due to start on Wednesday aimed at setting ground rules for the safe use of the emerging technology.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...