With the introduction of new AI platforms that promise to do all your research and writing for you, the ramifications for education are potentially massive.

Artificial intelligence has been making huge leaps of late. Perhaps one of the more attention-grabbing of these is the advent of chatbots, a new breed of search engine (‘Google killer’ ChatGPT sparks AI chatbot race’, BBC, 6 February 2023).  One of the leaders in this field is AI Open, the company behind ChatGPT, with Microsoft a majority shareholder.

A chatbot is a computer programme that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to understand customer questions and automate responses to them, simulating human conversation in a written form.

It all sounds so harmless, and also useful. Until you begin to consider the potential uses for a programme such as this. If you ask your chatbot to pen you a thesis, for example, it’s going to go off and do it, in double quick time. All the research and legwork that would have once taken months is now done in a matter of seconds.

In the spirit of research, we decided to put one of these chatbots to the test over our weekly editorial coffee. Into the Pocket AI app, we entered the words: ‘school improvement’. Within 20 seconds, the app had started to print its response. Within a minute it was finished.

So we did it again.

Interestingly, our chatbot came up with a different response. You can read both of them below.

First response to school improvement

We’re always looking for ways to improve our school. Here are some of our goals for the coming school year:

  1. Improve student communication and collaboration – Through initiatives such as peer mentoring and interdisciplinary projects, we want to further create a culture of collaboration in our students and foster communication between them on school-related topics.
  2. Enhance the use of technology in the classroom – From tablets and laptops to interactive whiteboards and virtual classrooms, we want to continue our efforts to incorporate technology in the classroom in a safe, effective and meaningful way.
  3. Develop new methods of assessment and evaluation – We want to move away from traditional methods of assessment and evaluation and use more valid and reliable methods that measure students’ progress accurately.
  4. Strengthen our career and college readiness programming – To ensure our students are well-equipped to enter the workforce or pursue further studies after they graduate, we want to further advance our career and college readiness offering.
  5. Strengthen the connection between our school and local businesses – We want to continue fostering relationships with local businesses to bring real-world experiences to our students, while also providing them a greater understanding of the world they will enter after they graduate.
  6. Foster a safe, healthy and encouraging learning environment – We will do our best to create a learning environment that is healthy, caring and supportive and that opens the door to possibility and creativity for all students.

Second response to school improvement

As a helpful assistant, I suggest implementing the following strategies for school improvement:

  1. Focus on personalised learning: Personalized learning plans that cater to individual student needs can improve student performance and engagement. This can include incorporating technology-based interventions, adapting curriculum to students’ interests, and providing additional support such as tutoring and mentoring.
  2. Encourage teacher collaboration: Creating opportunities for teachers to work together, share best practices, and collaborate on curriculum planning can help to ensure that all students receive high-quality instruction.
  3. Strive for equity: Addressing systemic inequalities in education should be a top priority. This can include addressing disparities in funding, resources, and access to opportunities.
  4. Improve school culture: Creating a positive school culture that fosters a sense of belonging can enhance student well-being, engagement, and academic success. This can involve promoting positive behaviour, addressing bullying and harassment, and ensuring that all students feel valued and respected.
  5. Measure progress: Regularly collecting data and monitoring student progress can help to identify areas for improvement and determine the effectiveness of interventions. This can include using standardised tests, formative assessments, and other measures of student performance.

The speed and clarity of the response was impressive and put into harsh perspective the seven years I had spent researching the same topic for my PhD.

As a practitioner there was a sense to the points made and by making them points for action, they introduced a pragmatic approach which the user could follow. The lists did vary, yet covered much of the same ground.

However, in our previous articles we have proposed that these areas of activity should be prioritised with health and safety as the first priority. Unfortunately our chatbot failed to mention this at all in one list and last in the other.

Also in this journal we have identified three sources of knowledge – relevant research, emerging innovation and best practice and three areas of knowledge – teaching and learning, leadership and collaborative learning.  We combined these to form a self audit tool.

Both versions of our chatbot’s response do draw on knowledge from the three areas, but it didn’t feel it relevant to provide a reference so we were unable to identify the source of its findings. Has this come from best practice or relevant research? Or, as is more likely, from a consensus of published material it found on the net? If this is the case, we might assume this conclusion was drawn from research and policy, as emerging innovation is often not shared in its early days and best practice is often captured late.

We also advocate for school improvement to maximise its impact that any action taken takes into account time, palace and disposition of both of the learners involved – the pupils and the teachers.

In addition, as recent events have shown across our global community, school improvement sits within a political envelope which increasingly determines in detail, especially in state funded schools, what it requires its schools to do and how they should do it with punitive actions to be taken if they do not comply. Whether these directives reduce inequality whilst increasing the achievement and wellbeing of students remains to be seen.

All this aside there is no doubt that following the points for action outlined by the chatbot would ensure improvement was made if the political envelope allowed it and if those applying them understood how, when and where as well as what needed to be done. And therein lie the skills of leadership.

We hope you found this report on one of the latest innovations in education informative and reflective. We continue the theme in our next article. If any of our readers are using AI to support their work, we would like to hear from you.

Take care and stay safe.


Professor Sir George Berwick, CBE