The Telegraph recently reported a groundbreaking development in the world of education. Cottesmore School, a prestigious boarding prep school located in West Sussex, has taken a leap into the future by appointing an AI robot named Abigail Bailey as its “principal headteacher”. This modern approach to school leadership aims to support the headmaster in myriad ways, from advising on staff welfare to drafting school policies.
Tom Rogerson, the current headmaster of Cottesmore, explained his decision to incorporate AI into the school’s leadership. He sees Abigail Bailey as a tool to assist him with a range of concerns, notably supporting staff and students alike, and even helping pupils diagnosed with ADHD. The chatbot’s design mirrors that of ChatGPT, a popular online AI chat service where users pose questions and receive responses generated by advanced algorithms, as mentioned in the Telegraph report.
According to Rogerson, this AI-driven principal boasts a vast knowledge in both machine learning and educational management. Its expertise lies in analysing substantial amounts of data to derive informed decisions and suggestions. Sharing his experience, Rogerson commented on the reassuring presence of such a well-informed assistant. He emphasised that while human advice remains invaluable, the instant accessibility and vast knowledge of the AI provides a sense of calm and confidence.
Although being a school headmaster is undoubtedly rewarding, Rogerson highlighted the inherent loneliness of the position. While there are groups and associations for head teachers, having an always-available AI assistant can be immensely comforting.
Rogerson’s vision extends beyond the walls of Cottesmore. He hopes that state school head teachers will also benefit from this public online robot. Its capabilities include providing comprehensive seven-point plans or engaging users in thought-provoking dialogues to stimulate critical thinking.
Cottesmore’s reputation precedes itself. As a recipient of prestigious accolades like Tatler’s “prep school of the year”, the institution caters to both boys and girls between the ages of four and 13. However, excellence comes at a price, with fees reaching £32,000 annually for UK students.
This bold move to incorporate AI into the school’s leadership isn’t Cottesmore’s first foray into technology. Earlier in the year, they advertised for a “head of AI” position, aiming to integrate technology more deeply into their curriculum and assist teachers in workload management. After a series of interviews, another robot, Jamie Rainer, was assigned the role due to its comprehensive qualifications in AI and its ability to fulfil the school’s diverse requirements.
In addition to leadership roles, individual students at Cottesmore have been provided with personal AI robots tailored to help them grasp their unique learning styles. Rogerson’s introduction to ChatGPT, which sowed the seeds for this AI integration, came from his nephew, a Cottesmore student. This encounter led him to delve deeper into AI’s potential, eventually leading to the school’s innovative decision.
To spread the word on AI’s potential, Cottesmore organised a complimentary AI “masterclass festival” in September, inviting educators from various backgrounds. Despite the rapid technological advancements, Rogerson assures that the essence of traditional education remains untouched at Cottesmore. He stated, “The introduction of AI is not about replacing our dedicated educators but about augmentin