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A Step-by-Step Guide to Introducing AI to Your School Multi-Academy Trust and Ensuring that Staff Successfully Adopt It.

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Alex Russell

CEO, Bourne Education Trust

This article emphasises the importance of collaborative efforts in bringing about workplace transformation and adopting AI, particularly in multi-academy trusts (MATs). It stresses that siloed work won't succeed, highlighting the need for collective action.

If trying to complete a major project in isolation is difficult enough; bringing about transformational change to the workplace on your own is well-nigh impossible. A successful project will need every team in on the action; siloed working or partial abdication by some won’t work and the initiative with wither and die. If you are not in a multi-academy trust (MAT), then share the challenge by partnering with other local, like-minded schools.

Introducing staff to AI and adopting it into everyday work practices within a MAT involves a structured approach to ensure understanding, buy-in, and effective implementation. Here's an outline of the steps the MAT could take:

1. Gain support and commitment from senior leadership within the MAT for the AI adoption initiative and clearly  communicate the strategic importance of AI in achieving the MAT's goals.

2. Identify areas within the MAT where AI can bring value, such as administrative tasks, student support, lesson preparation, data analysis and workload reduction.

3. Know your staff; conduct surveys to understand staff members' current knowledge and their perceived needs regarding AI.

4. Develop a training plan that caters to staff at different skill levels, from basic AI concepts to advanced usage.

5. Organise workshops, webinars, or in-house training sessions to facilitate hands-on learning.

6. Establish a cross-functional AI task force that includes educators, administrators, and IT professionals.

7. Launch small-scale AI pilot projects in areas where AI can offer immediate benefits, such as automating administrative tasks or personalising learning. Collect and share the feedback and refine your approaches.

8. Communicate the purpose and potential benefits of AI adoption transparently to all staff members.

9. Develop policies and procedures for handling data in AI applications, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. Educate staff on data privacy and security best practices.

10. Encourage staff to explore and experiment with AI applications in their work.

11. Establish a support system where staff can seek assistance and guidance when working with AI.

12. Continuously monitor the progress of AI initiatives and their impact on MAT operations.

13. Gradually expand the use of AI across different departments and functions based on the success of pilot projects.

14. Share success stories and best practices within the MAT to encourage broader adoption.

15. Create a community of practice or a forum where staff can collaborate, share experiences, and learn from each other regarding AI usage.

16. Continuously gather input and feedback from staff to identify challenges and improvement opportunities in AI adoption.

17. Develop a long-term strategy for AI integration that aligns with the MAT's evolving needs and goals.

Implementing AI in a multi-academy trust requires a phased and inclusive approach. It's essential to foster a culture of curiosity, learning, and adaptability among staff to maximise the benefits of AI while addressing any challenges that may arise during the adoption process.

Key Learning