London: Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of Boris Johnson’s cabinet received a private education, according to analysis by the Sutton Trust, while 27 per cent went to a comprehensive, and 9 per cent attended a grammar school.
This proportion of alumni of independent schools is more than twice that of Theresa May’s 2016 cabinet (30 per cent), slightly more than Cameron’s 2015 cabinet (50 per cent) and similar to the 2010 coalition cabinet (62 per cent).
This means that cabinet ministers are nine times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school for all or part of their secondary education than the general population, of which 7 per cent went to private schools.
However, the Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and the new Education Secretary were among those educated at state schools.
The proportion of independently educated ministers attending Cabinet is less than earlier cabinets under Conservative Prime Ministers, John Major (71 per cent in 1992) and Margaret Thatcher (91 per cent in 1979). Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both had 32 per cent of those attending cabinet privately educated, while 25 per cent of Clement Attlee’s first cabinet had been privately educated.
Of the 33 ministers attending Boris Johnson’s new cabinet, 45 per cent went to Oxford or Cambridge universities. This compares with 31 per cent of all Conservative MPs, 20 per cent of Labour MPs and 24 per cent of all MPs. A further 24 per cent of Johnson’s cabinet were educated at other Russell Group universities (excluding Oxbridge).
Boris Johnson continues the academic dynasty at Number 10 that stretches back to before the start of World War Two: except for Gordon Brown, every Prime Minister since 1937 who attended university was educated at one institution – Oxford.
Last month Elitist Britain – a major piece of research surveying the education backgrounds of over 5,000 of Britain’s leading people – showed that 29 per cent of current MPs in the House of Commons come from a private school background. In the Conservative party, just under half (45 per cent) of MPs attended an independent school, compared to 15 per cent in the Labour party.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder and 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. Addressing this must be at the heart of our new Prime Minister’s tenure in Downing Street.
“The make-up of Johnson’s cabinet underlines once again how unevenly spread the opportunities are to enter the elites. The key to improving social mobility at the top is to tackle financial barriers to entry, adopt contextual recruitment and admissions practices and, critically, to tackle social segregation in schools.”