In Brief

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

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

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.

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.”

Recommended

How London became the city of choice for Russian ‘dirty money’
The City of London skyline
Why we’re talking about . . .

How London became the city of choice for Russian ‘dirty money’

What is a ‘trigger warning’ and why are they controversial?
J.K. Rowling reading from Harry Potter
Getting to grips with . . .

What is a ‘trigger warning’ and why are they controversial?

The possible outcomes of the Sue Gray report
Boris Johnson during a visit to a factory in Anglesey, North Wales
Behind the scenes

The possible outcomes of the Sue Gray report

What the National Insurance increase means
Boris Johnson with Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid
Fact file

What the National Insurance increase means

Popular articles

Are we heading for a snap general election?
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Today’s big question

Are we heading for a snap general election?

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

The Week Footer Banner