AI will be used to mark homework in the future, says Education Secretary

·3 min read
Gillian Keegan - Daniel Leal/AFP
Gillian Keegan - Daniel Leal/AFP

Homework will be marked by artificial intelligence in the future, Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, has told teachers.

Teachers’ workload will be cut as AI technology advances to the point at which it can do marking and write lesson plans, she told the Bett education technology conference on Wednesday.

She said: “We’ve seen people using it to write lesson plans, and some interesting experiments around marking too.

“Can it do those things now to the standard we need? No. Should the time it saves ever come at the cost of the quality produced by a skilled teacher? Absolutely not.

“But could we get to a point where the tasks that really drain teachers’ time are significantly reduced? I think we will.”

The Department for Education also said on Wednesday that schools could overhaul their approach to homework in response to AI technology such as ChatGPT, which can help pupils to cheat.

In a statement on AI, it said that schools “may wish to review homework policies, to consider the approach to homework and other forms of unsupervised study as necessary to account for the availability of generative AI.”

‘Mass exodus’

Teachers walked out during the Education Secretary’s speech in a sign of deteriorating relations between the Government and the profession.

Attendees at the annual Bett conference in London said there was a “mass exodus” when Mrs Keegan started speaking. Photos shared on social media showed people standing up and then filing out of the room.

Frances Akinde, a special educational needs and disabilities consultant who was in the audience, said: “It’s going to make teachers even angrier because they are rejecting a pay offer and she seemed to be saying, ‘we don’t need you, we have AI’. It was poor timing.”

Ms Akinde said people started walking out after Mrs Keegan arrived on stage. Her speech was delayed by around an hour because she was stuck in traffic.

Earlier this week, a primary school teacher had urged people at the conference to walk out as the Education Secretary spoke.

“If Gillian Keegan is speaking at Bett, I think teachers need to show their disgust at the Government’s pay offer by making sure, as soon as she starts to speak, everyone – and I mean everyone – in the room stands up, walks out and leaves,” he said.

Feelings ‘running high’

A Whitehall source said: “A walk-out such as this is very unusual. Feelings are clearly running high, and the question is whether it will translate into further sustained action.”

The National Education Union has advised its members in England to reject the Government’s offer of a £1,000 bonus this year and a 4.5 per cent pay rise next year.

NEU members have until Sunday to vote on the offer. If they reject it, the union plans to stage strikes on April 27 and May 2, weeks before the start of GCSE and A-Level exams.