Britain's most influential people FIVE TIMES more likely to have gone to private school, new study shows

BRITAIN'S most influential people are five times more likely to have gone to private school, a new study shows.

Only 7 per cent of Brits are privately educated, compared to 39 per cent of those in top positions, according to data from the Sutton Trust.

It says the report, published with the Social Mobility Commission, reveals a pipeline from fee-paying schools through Oxbridge and into top jobs.

The research, released as Old Etonian Boris Johnson and former Charterhouse head boy Jeremy Hunt vie to be the next prime minister, looked at the educational backgrounds of more than 5,000 of the country's leading people in 37 categories across nine broad areas.


These were politics, business, the media, Whitehall and public bodies, public servants, local government, the creative industries, women and sport.

The Elitist Britain 2019 report found women are under-represented in all of the areas surveyed.

But for those who do make it to the top, they are less likely to have attended Oxbridge than their male counterparts.

That includes the judiciary, where they are 25 percentage points less likely, and the House of Lords, where they are 21 percentage points less likely.

Across the 37 categories looked at, only among men and women footballers were the privately educated under-represented.

The research finds that power rests with a narrow section of the population – the 7 per cent who attend private schools and the 1 per cent who graduate from Oxford and Cambridge.

Which proportion was privately educated?

  • Senior judges – 65%
  • Civil servant permanent secretaries – 59%
  • House of Lords – 57%
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomats – 52%
  • National newspaper columnists – 44%
  • 100 most influential news editors and broadcasters – 43%
  • England's cricket team – 43%
  • The Cabinet (spring 2019) – 39%
  • Wealthiest members of the TV, film and music industries – 38%
  • Rugby internationals – 37%
  • Shadow cabinet – 9%
  • Men's football international players – 5%

Sutton Trust researchers looked at past school and university attendance for around 5,000 individuals. Only 7% of Brits are privately educated, compared to 39% of those in top positions.

The report found big differences in the educational backgrounds of men and women at the top of sporting life.

Women's teams showed similar patterns to their male counterparts in terms of school background, but around 80 per cent of female internationals across football, cricket and rugby attended university, compared to a very small number of men.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and executive chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Britain is an increasingly divided society.

"Divided by politics, by class, by geography. Social mobility, the potential for those to achieve success regardless of their background, remains low."

Britain is an increasingly divided society. Divided by politics, by class, by geography.

"The key to improving social mobility at the top is to tackle financial barriers, adopt contextual recruitment and admissions practices and tackle social segregation in schools.

"In addition, we should open up independent day schools to all pupils based on merit not money as demonstrated by our successful Open Access scheme."

The researchers looked at past school and university attendance for around 5,000 individuals.

Dr Luke Heselwood, from think tank Reform, said: "These scandalous figures show that the UK is far from being a meritocracy.

"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."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "For too long professions like law, politics and journalism have been dominated by independently schooled people.

"By making sure that our state schools offer a comparable education to private schools we will drive down these inequalities."

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