AI tools will be introduced in classrooms across England to help reduce teachers’ workloads, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday.
The funding will be used by online classroom resource Oak National Academy to improve the technologies for use in schools across England, before they are introduced for teachers.
“AI has extraordinary potential to reform our education system for the better, with considerable value for both teachers and students,” Mr Sunak said.
“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.
“This investment will play a defining role in giving our children and the next generation of students a better education and a brighter future.”
The announcement comes before the AI safety summit, a gathering of global leaders due to start on Wednesday aimed at setting ground rules for safe use of the emerging technology.
Last week, Mr Sunak warned AI posed a potential threat to humanity, at a speech in which he also said AI was ripe with opportunities to make the world a better place.
The spending follows a pilot project of the tools, which tested how they worked and measured their ability to reduce teachers’ workloads.
“While we agree with the idea of developing AI to support teachers and pupils, we have to question the way in which this is being done,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
“How will this money be spent? And what efforts has the government made to develop this technology through the UK’s existing education technology industry?
“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.”
Mr Barton also questioned if the £2 million, which is equal to employing about 40 teachers, was best spent on Oak National Academy.
Ministers have claimed the funding will pave the way for a personalised AI assistant in every classroom.
“Throughout my career, I have seen the positive impact that technology can have, which is why it is great we’re harnessing the potential of AI and supporting Oak National Academy to develop new resources for teachers," said Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.
“Whether it’s drafting lesson plans or producing high-quality teaching resources, I am confident that by tapping into the benefits of AI we will be able to reduce teachers’ workloads so that they can focus on what they do best – teaching and supporting their pupils.”
The government has said it will continue to work with teachers to minimise the time they spend working beyond their teaching hours.