Pupils studying International Baccalaureate can use ChatGPT in essays

Pupils studying the International Baccalaureate will be allowed to quote work generated by the ChatGPT artificial intelligence system in their essays.

The qualification body will not ban children from using the AI chatbot in their assessments as long as they credit it and do not try to pass it off as their own.

Matt Glanville, head of assessment principles and practice at the International Baccalaureate (IB), told The Times that artificial intelligence software should not be seen “as a threat”, but should instead be accepted as part of daily life, like spellcheckers, translation software and calculators.

ChatGPT is a form of generative AI which has come to prominence in recent months after a version of it was released to the public last year.

It can respond to questions in a human-like manner and understand the context of follow-up queries much like in human conversations, as well as being able to compose essays if asked – sparking fears it could be used by students to complete assignments.

The IB offers four educational programmes taken by pupils at 120 schools in the UK.

Mr Glanville told The Times: “We should not think of this extraordinary new technology as a threat. Like spellcheckers, translation software and calculators, we must accept that it is going to become part of our everyday lives.”

ChatGPT has been banned in some schools across the world amid fears that students could use it to cheat, but the IB does not support an outright ban.

Mr Glanville told The Times: “The clear line between using ChatGPT and providing original work is exactly the same as using ideas taken from other people or the internet.

“As with any quote or material adapted from another source, it must be credited in the body of the text and appropriately referenced in the bibliography.

“To submit AI-generated work as their own is an act of academic misconduct and would have consequences. But that is not the same as banning its use.”

A survey by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, found that 62% of computing teachers said AI-powered chatbots such as ChatGPT would make it harder to mark the work of students fairly.

But the industry body for IT said computing teachers want support to harness its potential rather than banning it.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “ChatGPT potentially creates issues for any form of assessment that relies upon coursework where students have access to the internet.

“Allowing students to use this platform as a source with the correct attribution seems a sensible approach and in line with how other sources of information are used.

“We would caution, however, that ChatGPT itself acknowledges that some of the information it generates may not be correct and it is therefore important for students to understand the importance of cross-checking and verifying information, as is the case with all sources.

“What is important is that students do not pass off pieces of work as their own when this is not the case, and that they use sources critically and well.”

Sarah Hannafin, senior policy adviser at school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The International Baccalaureate seems to be taking a very sensible approach.

“We need to respond to technology as it develops, helping children and young people to evaluate the benefits and risks and to understand how to use it appropriately and effectively.”