Local government more elitist than those they represent

Britain’s top people are over five times more likely to have been to a fee-paying school than the general population, with 20 per cent of local government leaders and 29 per cent of MPs privately educated.

The Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission have published a new report which highlights that the most influential people in Britain are over five times more likely to have been to a fee-paying school than the general population.

Looking specifically at local government, the two organisations find that while a fifth of local government leaders were privately educated, only nine per cent of local government CEOs attended a fee-paying school. In total, 39 per cent of those in positions of power – MPs, Peers, CEOs – were privately educated, despite only seven per cent of the population having gone to an independent school.

Elitist Britain 2019 reports that 39 per cent of the cabinet, as of Spring 2019, was independently educated. This is in stark contrast with the shadow cabinet, of which just nine per cent attended a private school. Of current MPs in the House of Commons in 2017, 29 per cent come from a private school background, four times higher than the electorate they represent.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and executive chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, 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. As our report shows, the most influential people across sport, politics, the media, film and TV, are five times as likely to have attended a fee-paying school.

“As well as academic achievement an independent education tends to develop essential skills such as confidence, articulacy and team work which are vital to career success. 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.”