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Will AI Replace Teachers?

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Chris Goodall

Head of Digital Education, Bourne Education Trust.

Thoughts on the threats and opportunities presented by AI in the classroom.

Will teachers be replaced?

Disclaimer: I would like readers to know that I firmly believe in the power of the human to connect with students and provide for their emotional development with love and care. This cannot be done by a machine. Please come back to this disclaimer if you feel discomfort during this piece!

It’s a provocative question and so requires a nuanced answer, I would say that peoples answer to the question depends on 4 things:

  1. The definition of the role of a teacher.
  2. Your perception of how quickly AI is developing.
  3. Assumptions around the current quality of human connection that students are getting.
  4. Assumptions about the supply and quality of teachers going forward.

I teach business studies and one of the core concepts is ‘efficiency’. Another is ‘types of production’ and in particular, job production (one off bespoke made to order) vs. mass/flow production (production at scale). The mainstream education game is one of mass production. We are transferring/developing knowledge and skills to students at scale.

However, as any teacher knows we would love to be doing this via job production but that is costly and so, out of the question for an education system funded by the taxpayer (depending on the sector).

So, when we look at teaching students with this in mind, how efficient are current teaching methods with the human as the teacher versus an AI teaching?

Here I look at 4 inefficiencies:

  1. Inefficiency of task
  2. Inefficiency of numbers
  3. Inefficiency of expertise
  4. Inefficiency of scope

It is these inefficiencies that may necessitate us moving from a labour-intensive education system to a capital intensive system.

  1. Inefficiency of Task

Have a look at the Teachers’Standards which define the minimum level of practice for teachers.

Going through this one bullet point at a time and keeping in mind the rapid development of AI over the next 5-10 years, rather than focusing on just what it can do now, I can only see sections 7 and 8 (and Part 2) which an AI will struggle with. The rest will be confidently surpassed gradually over the next decade.

I like to think I am a good teacher with many years of experience. When Ofsted used to grade teachers, I received outstanding judgements during inspections. However, reflecting on my practice over an average year, if I was to grade each lesson out of 10, I think I would range somewhere between a 5-7 overall (and 7 is probably generous!).

Mass production to a class of 30+ students is an utterly inefficient way to be able to complete any of these standards consistently at a level of above 7 over the course of the year.

This is no fault of the teacher. Have a read of this article that was published in the guardian to understand why:


“For me, it was the way I was being treated, as well as the absolutely obscene workload: clocking up 50 hours a week and then having to do reports and other non-teaching related activities in your own time,”

In his class of 27 children, a quarter have complex special educational needs, he says. “Some of them have autism, but there is no additional support, it’s always just me in the classroom. Then you get grilled when some kids haven’t reached age-related expectations.The task is impossible.”

Class sizes of 27 to over 30 mean there is no chance for individual feedback or one-to-one time with pupils.”

Since I re-joined the profession back in 2017 I have averaged 11 hour days and not had a single break during the day from the moment I got in to school to the moment I left. That is not how you gear up a teacher to work at peak performance and efficiency.

In mass production we need to be operating 24/7. We need to be machines.

We all do our best, but a machine will be able to consistently hit 7+ without complaint.

But what about teaching standards 7 and 8 (and Part 2). I’ll come back to them. Remember the disclaimer!

  1. Inefficiency of Numbers

Depending on the sector you work in, class sizes of 15-30 may be typical. If we are trying to get to job production with highly bespoke learning, we cannot deliver personalised learning with those ratios.

We are in a mass production system. Again, when we compare what an AI can and will be able to do, it will be able to deliver highly personalised learning to each individual, delivering just the right nugget of information and coaching to push the students learning to the next level. It will give bespoke feedback and a range of tailored,highly engaging even addictive options for a student to tackle next and they will enjoy it. Just as much as they enjoy sitting in front of the current basic AI of TikTok (often for hours and hours!).

A human teacher cannot do this. Its not our fault, as teachers we are only human. Many parents recognise this and choose to pay for the 1:1 teaching with tutors (They pay for job production if they want it bespoke).

  1. Inefficiency of Expertise

Lets just pretend, for argument's sake, that we ignore these first two inefficiencies and we look at the best teachers in schools, the absolute high energy performers.

How many of these artisan craftspeople do you think we have in the average school? Those at the absolute peak of expertise in the profession? If you are lucky in a school you may have one or two for short periods of time.

Like an artisan baker they are baking bespoke breads personalised to the individual student, they are often doing this via one-to-one tutoring. Not an efficient way to educate the nation's many students but certainly highly effective. But also, very costly.

However, in a recruitment crisis, these staff are few and far between. Often when people rally against the “will teachers be replaced argument” they are thinking of these teachers. Of course, these teachers are much less easily replaced by machines but they will eventually be because of the next and final inefficiency.

  1. Inefficiency of Scope

So what could be more irreplaceable than a teacher who is the absolute expert in their subject? The artisan delivering one to one highly personalised education.

How about an AI that is an expert in ALL subjects. One that can draw on the knowledge and skills of English, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Religions, Art….the list goes on. When teaching they can draw on the insights of numerous disciplines. True cross-curricular learning.

Humans could not compete with that, but an AI can.

But what of teachers’ standards 7 and 8 (and Part 2)? What about the disclaimer?

I think this is where is we need to use another business term. ‘Specialisation’. Our humanity is vitally important. It is vitally needed for a students’ all-round development. Our humanity will never be replaced. Its what WE specialise in - Standards 7,8(and Part 2).

But the machines have a specialism too. They will specialise in teachers’ standards’ 1-6 because they are much more efficient in performing those tasks, consistently, in a mass production education system.

How with this change happen?

This kind of revolutionary change is hard to imagine. Unfortunately, no major change in society happens without significant turbulence. People are just not motivated to change deeply embedded systems when they feel comfortable. Things are about to get uncomfortable.

My prediction is the current system will start to dissolve and necessitate change.

Attendances will decrease even more than they have since the pandemic as parents and students opt for more flexible ways of working in line with the corporate world.

High ability students who are not getting the quality teaching at school will opt for an artisan AI teacher. Other parents/students, perhaps the more vulnerable, will say their child can do better at home without the distractions of other students and opt for AI home learning.

Behaviour will decline as students exit their increasingly highly stimulating online VR/AR/XR home lives to come to school to experience a teacher in front of a board with PowerPoint slides, videos, and worksheets.

The recruitment crisis will continue as staff feel the increasing burden of the mass production system and see their friends in other professions with a more flexible work-life balance. Therefore,quality of teaching will continue to decrease, and attendance and behaviour will decrease further as a result.


The AI revolution in education is upon us, and it's not a cause for fear but an opportunity for evolution. We shouldn't view this as the end of teachers, we should see it as a tool to amplify their abilities, lessen their burdens, and provide more time for what truly matters - connecting with students.

In a future with AI,teachers do not disappear they specialise and become guardians, mentors, and guides.

It’s not about replacing teachers with machines; it's creating a partnership where each does what they do best. The future is not the end of teachers, but potentially a new era in which educators have more freedom to truly shape minds and hearts.

So, let's not fear the future. Instead, let's embrace the opportunities AI brings and help shape a new educational landscape that empowers every individual to thrive and where human connection is cherished.

Key Learning