Skip to main content

Enhancing Ofsted’s Policy Paper on AI with Actionable Insights

By April 26, 2024No Comments

Ofsted introduced a policy paper this week on “Ofsted’s approach to artificial intelligence (AI)”. It’s a welcome document, but as always with Ofsted, whilst much of it is useful, it could go some way further.

When working on writing ‘Perfect ICT Every Lesson’ more than ten years ago, a lot of the book was framed around how technology could be used effectively to help educators achieve lots of things, particularly around how to achieve many of the requirements of the Ofsted framework.

What was stark when doing that work back then was how little the Department knew of technology, its impacts, its importance or how it could support, enhance and assist with learning and teaching. Times have moved on; however, whilst the policy paper is useful, both for understanding how they (Ofsted) use AI and what they expect from providers with their use of AI, there is much more that they could have shared, which I’ll get into later.

I’ve had a go at putting the key points of the policy paper worthy of reflecting on in the following table by sharing:


  1. Priorities for schools
  2. Explanations/expansions to help understand more about what the priority is about
  3. Ideas on how to implement
  4. Likely benefits you might see

I felt this approach was useful given there is so much hype around AI and certainly plenty of snake oil both from products on the market and from so-called ‘experts’.

Priority Explanation/Expansion Best Approach to Implement Likely Benefits
Policy Development Develop clear AI usage policies. Involve stakeholders in policy creation to ensure alignment with educational goals and ethical standards.

For some ideas around this, please check out this AI policy template.

Ensures compliance and sets clear expectations for AI use.
Staff Training Train staff on AI tools and their educational applications. Provide professional development sessions focused on ethical AI use and integration into teaching.

If you’d like some help with this, please get in touch.

Enhances teacher competence and confidence in using AI.
Safety and Security Ensure AI tools are secure and protect user data. Regularly review and update security protocols for AI technologies.

Tony Sheppard is legendary at this.

Protects students’ and staff’s personal data.
Transparency Maintain transparency about AI use in school operations. Communicate openly with parents and students about how AI is used and its benefits.

Never underestimate the importance of this.

Builds trust and clarifies AI’s role in education.
Bias Monitoring Monitor AI tools for bias and fairness in their functionality. Implement regular checks and balances to assess AI outputs and correct biases. Promotes equity and prevents discrimination.

The policy paper, therefore, is helpful and it’s superb to see Ofsted at least trying to recognise the importance of sharing their approaches and what feel they should be seeing around this when they visit providers. The guidance however could certainly be improved with more detailed support and actionable ideas for schools looking to integrate AI into their environments.

In the absence of that, I thought I might be able to help so penned 10 further considerations Ofsted has missed and actions you could undertake to take things further:

  1. Practical Implementation Examples: Based on my extensive work in this area and on whole school digital strategy, AI can dynamically help in many key areas such as: adapting learning materials to assist adaptive learning potentially increasing engagement and effectiveness. AI can also help with workload reduction, speeding up of processes, administration tasks, report writing and more. With some practical implementation examples, Ofsted could have provided much more help for schools and leaders in their implementation.
  2. Student Digital Leaders: Inspired by my work with student digital leader groups and setting up the UK’s Student Digital Leader Network, Ofsted should have mentioned the importance of involving students in shaping AI policies and practices, which in my experience would bring significant benefits to schools whilst simultaneously enhancing the learning experience and responsibilities of many students.
  3. Professional Development: Ofsted could and should have made mention of evidence-informed approaches on how to successfully implement professional development. Even if at a basic level they discussed the importance of effective professional development that incorporates spaced, and retrieval practice to ensure effective use of AI which could involve multiple training sessions throughout the year to reinforce learning and application, it would have been helpful. Beyond that, they could easily have shared some of the guidance from the EEF on this topic or the work of the Teacher Development Trust.
  4. Metrics for Success: If you don’t measure and define success then you don’t know if you’ve been successful! Therefore consider and define both qualitative and quantitative metrics to measure the success of AI implementations. This could include student performance improvements, feedback from staff and students, and regular reviews of AI usage.
  5. Guidance on AI Ethics Beyond Bias: Building on the work of experts like Dr Mhairi Aitken, explore broader ethical considerations, including data privacy and the impact of AI on student behaviour and development and incorporate that thinking into your policies, documentation and training.
  6. Supporting Accessibility and Inclusion: AI should help make learning accessible to all students, including those with additional needs so some guidance on practical tools such as AI-driven aids like Immersive Reader or Read&Write from Texthelp, would have been beneficial. Consider your cohorts and the tools and benefits they would bring and incorporate these into your digital strategy.
  7. Parental Engagement: Parental engagement has always been a key driver for successful implementation; it’s why I’ve always held digital parenting evenings. By developing these further, even with a rebrand to ‘AI Parenting’ (although that might have some interesting connotations with its name!) sessions designed to help parents understand how AI is used in education and how they can support their children’s use of these technologies would be an event I’m sure many parents would be delighted to attend – I know I would!
  8. Staying Updated: Schools must stay informed about the latest AI developments while ensuring their compliance with data protection and privacy laws. This could involve regular training and updates for staff. Having someone in the school who has as part of their remit, staying on top of these things and sharing them with staff will be a surefire way of helping to keep on track of the latest concerns and ideas around this fast-paced landscape.
  9. Budgeting for AI: Guidance on budgeting for AI would have been very helpful, but given that most AI tools worth using involve costs, think before you purchase and consider what potential costs AI might require and if possible, any funding opportunities. You’ll have to consider initial setup costs and ongoing expenses like software updates and licenses, so bear these in mind, particularly as they may be an additional cost.
  10. Environmental Impact: Being mindful of the fact that sometimes, the use of AI is a bit like using a sledgehammer to tap in a nail, we should consider the environmental impact of AI, such as the energy consumption of data centres. Remember, for each query made using a Generative AI tool they estimate it takes 500ml of water to cool the processors in the data centres. Using AI responsibly means ensuring that the benefits justify the ecological costs and is something worthy of consideration.

Of course, there’s so much more we can do, however coupling the Ofsted paper with some of these enhancements will hopefully give you some more ideas on how you can work to ensure that AI is not just integrated effectively but also responsibly and inclusively across our settings. I’d love to hear your thoughts and I hope you found the post useful.

I do of course support schools in this area too, from consultancy to training with whole school cohorts, faculties, and across all ages and phases. If that would be of interest to you, please get in touch!
Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist. Click here to learn more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.