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Data Science in UK secondary education: supporting the humanities and languages

Thursday, 29 June 2023, 10.00am to 4.00pm
Location: Vivian Stewart Room, Murray Edwards College, Huntington Road, Cambridge CB3 0DF

The workshop will explore how data science might build on the rapid expansion of online learning platforms in UK schools to improve the language development and writing skills of students in the humanities and languages in the UK state school sector. Academics, together with teachers and the educational industry will explore how to frame a partnership for data sharing and educational AI applications in order to support language and literacy and improve outcomes in the UK state school sector.

The event is supported by the Alan Turing Institute.

Organisers: Dora Alexopoulou (Cambridge), Andreas Vlachidis (UCL), Joseph Mintz (UCL), Helen Yannakoudakis (King’s College London).

Aim of the meeting

Online learning is expanding rapidly in UK secondaries. Thousands of pupils and teachers login daily to online learning platforms to access content and engage in learning activities, creating unprecedented amounts of data. How can we use such data to help young learners develop strong language and writing skills? 

We explore this question in a one-day workshop bringing together academic researchers, teachers and teacher organizations, the educational industry providing online learning content for schools as well as assessment organizations. The goal of the workshop is to consider how to frame a partnership between academics and stakeholders for data sharing and AI applications focusing on the following questions:

How can data science build on the rapid expansion of online learning in UK schools to improve learning in the humanities and languages?

How can text analytics be a tool for monitoring long-term outcomes and support language development and writing skills in UK schools?

How can online learning opportunities be more equitable, including students with special educational needs and disabilities or from linguistic or cultural minority groups?

How can we protect the rights of young learners and teachers and address ethical issues of parental rights and consent?


The workshop will start with introductory research talks and a panel discussion to be followed by break-out sessions where participants will be invited to consider the areas where big data from schools and writing analytics could help improve learning outcomes in language and literacy as well as questions around ethical data sharing and privacy and research infrastructure. We expect contributions from researchers in natural language processing, machine learning, writing analytics, linguistics and education as well as stakeholders, e.g. the Chartered College of Teaching, the National Subject Association for English as an Additional Language (NALDIC), the Royal College of Speech Therapists and industry providers.

9:30-10:00 Arrival and coffee

10:00-11:30 Introduction and research showcases

  • Keynote: Xiaobin Chen (University of Tuebingen): Profiling language development with natural language processing
  • Helen Yannakoudakis (King's College London): AI in language assessment and feedback
  • Andreas Vlachidis (University College London): Writing analytic methods, challenges and advances using computational approaches

11:30-12:00 Coffee

12:00-13:00 Research showcases and panel discussion

  • Joseph Mintz (University College London): Writing and neurodiversity - points for consideration
  • Dora Alexopoulou (University of Cambridge): Multilingual learners and the cognitive and linguistic complexity of writings

13:00-14:00 Lunch 

14:00-15:15 Break-out sessions and open discussion

15:15-15.30 Coffee 

15.30–16:00 Closing and next steps


Registration for this event is now closed.

The workshop is open to researchers in data science, language and education, secondary school teachers and managers, government, educational companies, assessment bodies and educational charities.

There are two ways to join us: in-person at Murray Edwards College or online via Zoom. Registration is essential. 

(Registration for this event will close at 23:59 BST on Monday 26 June.)

Travel support

There is limited travel support for early career researchers. Please contact Dora Alexopoulou ( for further details.

Venue details

Murray Edwards College is located on Huntingdon Road, close to Cambridge city centre. The full address is: Murray Edwards College, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DF.

For a map and directions to the College, please see: Find us | Murray Edwards College - University of Cambridge