Throughout my 26 years working in schools, I have been told repeatedly that we are on the verge of a technological revolution which will transform education in this country. For the first time ever, I am starting to believe this might just be correct.

Earlier this week, the examination board AQA, England’s largest supplier of GCSE and A-Levels, published Making it Click: The case for digital examinations in England, a report which confirmed that GCSE assessments in Polish and Italian, subject to regulatory approval, will be delivered digitally for the first time in 2026. AQA’s aim is to have at least one large entry subject, for example GCSE English Language, assessed at least in part via digital means by 2030.

Also launched earlier this week was a new cross-sector initiative and resource for teachers and school leaders. Spearheaded by the 13th Master of Wellington, Sir Anthony Seldon, AI in Education, whose website can be found here, brings together educationalists from all sectors – primary, secondary and universities, both private and state-funded – with the simple aim of supporting schools to harness the benefits of AI, whilst also acknowledging the risks, to improve pupil outcomes.

At Wellington, we have sought to be ahead of the technology curve for more than a decade now. We remain proud to have been the first independent school in the UK to become a Microsoft Showcase School, a title we still hold to this day, and the benefits of embedding effectively the use of technology and digital resources into our everyday teaching and learning are clear to see: no more lugging around bags full of exercise and text books; the ability – Wi-Fi permitting – to access resources and complete academic work anywhere in the world; the possibility of submitting completed work and, indeed, receiving feedback in real time; and the development in our students of digital literacy and organisational skills which will be a part of adult life.

In Westminster – or, more accurately, at the various Party Conferences – similarly ambitious plans have been launched in recent weeks. The Prime Minister built on his previous announcements about Maths-to-18 by unveiling his ambition to replace A-Levels (and T-Levels) with the Advanced British Standard (ABS), a baccalaureate style offering under which Sixth Formers would study English and Maths as well as three or so other subjects at either major or minor level until the age of 18. Despite the challenges around recruiting and training enough teachers to deliver the ABS, there is much to be commended in these plans; after all, we are a school in which 50% of our Sixth Formers already study English and Maths to 18 under the International Baccalaureate Diploma, as well as four other subjects at either Higher or Standard Level. Sounds remarkably similar to majors and minors, doesn’t it? Whether the ABS ever gets past the next General Election is another question…

It was, however, a source of disappointment and frustration to me that in the 47-page communique accompanying the announcement on the ABS, the word ‘digital’ appears only four times. AI is mentioned only once, dismissively. More than one contact has told me that civil servants in the Department for Education are “tearing their hair out” that the greatest opportunity ever granted to us to revolutionise the educational landscape through the considered adoption of digital technology and AI-powered resources is so conspicuous by its absence in Whitehall planning.

And what of Labour? Their flagship policy of VAT on independent school fees needs no introduction. It is a possibility for which the Wellington Governors have been scenario-planning for some time, although there is little more we can do or communicate until the detail of any proposed legislation is published. Beyond that, apart from announcing a review of Early Years provision and some mutterings around the promotion of ‘oracy’ in schools, broader policy statements on the future of education remain thin on the ground. It is equally frustrating.

By January 2025, we will have had a General Election. It will mark a significant new chapter in the history of this great nation, just as it feels we are on the cusp of great change within the world of education. As a Trustee at AQA and a member of the Strategy Panel for AI in Education, I hope to carry on playing a part, no matter how small, in shaping this future whilst also keeping Wellington in the vanguard of these vital areas of the educational debate. It is also why a key area in our nascent educational research centre, The Bridge, will focus on finding a way to bridge the best of traditional teaching methods with the exciting potential and transformative power of AI technology. Wellington must continue to be an exciting fusion of heritage and modernity, of tradition and progress. Only then will we continue to inspire all Wellingtonians to realise their potential and become fit for purpose for the world of tomorrow.