Cottesmore School in West Sussex (Image: Google Maps)
An AI robot has been appointed as the “principal headteacher” of an exclusive English boarding school
“Abigail Bailey”, built by an artificial intelligence developer and equipped with a vast wealth of knowledge in machine learning and educational management, will offer support to Tom Rogerson, headmaster headmaster of Cottesmore School in West Sussex.
Mr Rogerson is relying on “Abigail” to provide advice on issues ranging from supporting fellow staff, to helping children with ADHD and writing school policies.
The technology operates in much the same way as ChatGPT, whereby users type questions which are answered by the chatbot’s algorithms.
The robot was able to analyse huge quantities of data, Mr Rogerson said.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “Sometimes having someone or something there to help you is a very calming influence.
“It’s nice to think that someone who is unbelievably well trained is there to help you make decisions.
“It doesn’t mean you don’t ever also seek counsel from humans. Of course you do.
“It’s just very calming and reassuring knowing that you don’t have to call anybody up, bother someone, you don’t have to wait around for an answer.”
Abigail Bailey is able to analyse huge quantities of data (Image: Getty)
The job of headmaster was a “lonely” one, Mr Rogerson said.
He explained: “Of course we have head teacher’s groups…but just having somebody or something on tap that can help you in this lonely place is very reassuring.”
Abigail can respond with a seven-point plan, or can be programmed to ask questions in response to make school leaders think.
Cottesmore, a past winner of Tatler’s “prep school of the year”, is a co-education school for children aged four to 13.
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Fees are almost £32,000 a year for UK pupils.
Abigail is also not the only robot on the school’s staffing roster.
Cottestone last year appointed another, “Jamie Rainier”, as head of AI, after conducting interviews.
“Jamie” has been tasked with embedding technology into the curriculum and advising teachers on how to reduce their workloads.
Mr Rogerson said on order for a human applicant to be successful they would have needed to teach sport, be “highly empathetic”, teach in the classroom and take on multiple activities and hobbies, as well as having suitable AI qualification.
He admitted: “It was a tall order to fulfil all of those remits.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: Getty)
“We are stepping into the future while preserving the core values of traditional education.
“The introduction of AI is not about replacing our dedicated educators but about augmenting their capabilities and ensuring our students receive the best education possible.”
Nevertheless, the rapid pace at which AI is developed has prompted concerns, not least among Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Speaking during London Tech Week in June, the Prime Minister said: “Already we’ve seen AI help the paralysed to walk; and discover superbug-killing antibiotics – and that’s just the beginning.
“The possibilities are extraordinary. But we must – and we will – do it safely.
“I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation.”