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The Friday Five: Education (17/11/23)

It’s time for another round of the Friday Five: Education, where we review some of the week’s top news stories from the sector. This week, we’ll be running down everything from the future of AI in educational spaces to more government funding for skills training. Let’s get into it, then!

1. AI in the Classroom

AI has been one of the hottest buzzwords in recent years, and now it’s entering the realm of the classroom, too. Researchers have started using large language models (LLMs) – the same sort of program that underpins ChatGPT – to inject creativity into learning spaces.  

According to Nature, AI chatbots were used to help one student develop topics for their dissertation, whilst the chatbots were also utilised to generate ideas for lecturers’ classes. The hope is that AI-based one-on-one tutoring and creative educational ideation will be a reality.  

There are still issues with AI, with some fearing its use in educational settings will lead to increased cheating, whilst others point to the fact that programs like ChatGPT still produce inaccurate answers a not-insignificant amount of the time.  

However, even when considering these risks, AI can potentially improve the education sector. It will be interesting to see how the current risks and drawbacks are addressed over the coming months and years and how much the LLMs continue to improve as time goes on.

2. Inquiry into Financial Education in Primary and Secondary Settings  

government inquiry has been set up to determine how financial education can become more integral to the National Curriculum. Financial education has formed a part of Citizenship lessons in secondary education since 2014, but not all schools (academies and free schools) decide to teach it.  

There’s also currently little (if any) financial education taught in primary school settings, which is, again, something that the inquiry wants to investigate in more detail. Calling for written evidence, the cross-party committee wants to hear about:  

  • What people believe young people should be taught about money.  
  • Where financial education should fall within the National Curriculum between ages 11 and 16.  
  • Whether financial education should be “embedded more extensively at primary-school level”.  

The deadline for evidence submission is 15 December.

3. Teacher Wellbeing Hits Low  

Education Support recently published its annual Teacher Wellbeing Index, surveying over 3,000 education staff, and the findings make for grim reading. Almost four-fifths of all education staff surveyed (78%) are stressed, a 3% increase from the previous year.  

The same percentage of teachers say they’re stressed, again an increase on last year, whilst there was a 9% increase in the number of teachers experiencing burnout. Over half of staff have trouble sleeping, and when it came to inspections, 71% of staff believed inspections negatively affected their mental health. 

Following the survey, Education Support made several recommendations, including prioritising suicide prevention, investment in soft leadership skills, and that all education departments must create “a coherent strategy to improve the wellbeing of the education workforce”.

4. End of Industrial Action by Head Teachers in Wales

Having engaged in strikes since February, 74% of head teachers striking in Wales have agreed to bring the industrial action to an end today (17 November) following a pay and workload offer.

5. Government Announces £200 Million for Skills Training

Funding has been announced to help those interested in a career in emerging industries like green energy and other growing sectors like construction and digital.  

The funding will support universities and colleges and make higher-level qualifications that sit above A- and T-levels (but beneath degree level) more accessible.  

Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan said: “Whether it is green skills, construction, engineering or digital, thousands more people can now gain the skills they need to secure good jobs closer to home. These are long-term plans that will ensure every area can have a brighter future.”

Final Thoughts

Another week, another five news stories from the world of education to get your head around. Whatever you’ve planned for the weekend, we hope you have a restful, relaxing time!      



Carry on reading