As reported by Sky News, one of England’s biggest academy chains is testing pupils’ mental health using an AI (artificial intelligence) tool which can predict self-harm, drug abuse and eating disorders
The Academies Enterprise Trust has joined private schools such as Repton and St Paul’s in using the tool, which tracks the mental health of students across an entire school and suggests interventions for teachers.
The AI tracks the mental health of students across an entire school and suggests interventions for teachers.
This month, 50,000 schoolchildren at 150 schools will take the online psychological test, called AS Tracking, including 10,000 Academies Enterprise Trust pupils.
Teachers say use of the tool is “snowballing” as it offers a way to ease the pressure on teenagers struggling to deal with social media scrutiny and academic stress.
Dr Simon Walker, a cognitive scientist who conducted studies with 10,000 students in order to develop AS Tracking, says this allows teachers to hear pupils’ “hidden voice” – in contrast to traditional surveys, which tend to ask more direct questions. He commented:
“A 13-year-old girl or boy isn’t going to tell a teacher whether they’re feeling popular or thinking about self harm, so getting reliable information is very difficult.”
Once a child has finished the questionnaire, the results are sent to STEER, the company behind AS Tracking, which compares the data with its psychological model, then flags students which need attention in its teacher dashboard.
STEER co-founder Dr Jo Walker said:
“Our tool highlights those particular children who are struggling at this particular phase of their development and it points the teachers to how that child is thinking.”
The National Education Union cautiously welcomed AS Tracking’s growth, deputy general secretary Amanda Brown said:
“Exploring new ways for students to ask for help might be valuable, but aren’t a substitute for giving teachers time to know their students and maintain supportive relationships,”