Britain’s top jobs still ‘dominated by private school elite’

Study finds that 39% of ministers 65% of judges were privately educated

Eton College students
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty)

Britain’s top jobs in politics, the judiciary, media and business, are “still in the hands” of those who went to private school, reports The Guardian.

Researchers examined the educational backgrounds of more than 5,000 leading figures across categories including politicians, tech bosses, journalists, judges and FTSE 350 chief executives.

They found that a tiny elite of the privately educated continues to dominate the high-ranking roles: 39% had enjoyed an independent education, compared with 7% of the general population.

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The study, called Elitist Britain 2019, discovered that in politics, 39% of the cabinet went to fee-paying schools compared with 9% of Labour's shadow cabinet, while 29% of the 2017 intake of MPs were privately educated.

Some 65% of senior judges, 57% of members of the House of Lords, 59% of civil service permanent secretaries and 52% of Foreign Office diplomats hail from a private school background.

The Times says the news shows that the “privately educated elite” has tightened “its grip on politics”.

But the BBC adds that “it might not be a huge surprise that the upper ranks of the judiciary, the diplomatic service, the armed forces and public bodies are stuffed by a disproportionate number of former public-school pupils”.

Critics described the figures released by the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission as “scandalous”.

Luke Heselwood from the Reform thinktank said the findings show that the UK is “far from being a meritocracy”. He added: “Fixing this will require serious reform to the education system as, despite improvements, the most advantaged are nearly 10 times more likely to attend elite universities than the most disadvantaged.”

Dame Martina Milburn, the chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said politicians, employers and educators must “work together to ensure that Britain’s elite becomes more diverse in gender, ethnicity and social background”.

She insisted: “It is time to close the power gap and ensure that those at the top can relate to and represent ordinary people.”

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