Equality Trust responds to new report on social mobility

By agency reporter
June 26, 2019

Analysis presented in a new report from the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission finds that in Britain in 2019, power rests with a narrow section of the population: the seven per cent who attend private schools and the one per cent who graduate from Oxford and Cambridge.

The report, Elitist Britain 2019, reveals a ‘pipeline’ from fee-paying schools through Oxbridge and into top jobs. 52 per cent of the leading figures in some professions (senior judges) came through this pathway, with an average of 17 per cent across all top jobs.

At the time of this analysis in spring 2019, 39 per cent of the cabinet was independently educated, in contrast with the shadow cabinet, of which just nine per cent had 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.

There is a majority of private school alumni across various public bodies:

  • Senior judges (65 per cent).
  • Civil service permanent secretaries (59 per cent)
  • House of Lords (57 per cent).
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomats (52 per cent)

The media also has some of the highest numbers of the privately educated. Of the 100 most influential news editors and broadcasters, 43 per cent went to fee-paying schools. Similarly, 44 per cent of newspaper columnists were privately educated, and a third (33 per cent) went to both an independent school and Oxbridge.

Responding to the report, Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust said: "The replication of privilege, wealth and position within the same elite class of people going to the same schools and universities shows that the rhetoric of social mobility is flawed. We should concentrate on lifting living standards and educational standards for all our young people, not just those who are poor but bright.

"The increase in those who went to fee-paying schools dominating the top positions across media, music, sport, and tv reflects the sheer lack of opportunities for 93 per cent of our population. And this simply destroys any pretence that we live in a meritocracy – this is a largely male crony culture, a comfortable club for those who already have a huge amount of advantages in life who are preserving their positions at the top. We need a high-quality, well-funded education system for all our children and an end to the narrow, lack of diverse thinking at the top."

* Read Elitist Britain 2019 here

* The Sutton Trust https://www.suttontrust.com/

* The Equality Trust https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/

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