UK has 'low social mobility' and is run by private school elite — report

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By Alastair Jamieson
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both attended elite fee-paying schools
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both attended elite fee-paying schools

Britain’s most influential people are five times more likely to have been to a fee-paying school and social mobility in the UK is “low and not improving,” according to newly released research.

Nearly two-fifths (39%) of the country’s leading figures in government, business, the media and sport attended independent schools compared to the population at large (7%) according to “Elitist Britain”, a study by the Sutton Trust.

The over-representation of privately-educated people among top jobs is receding — but very slowly, the report concluded.

It comes as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, who both attended elite fee-paying schools and Oxford University, are in a race to be Britain’s next prime minister.

In fact, the number of privately-educated cabinet ministers has risen to 39% in 2019 compared to 36% five years ago, the report found.

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.”

'Elitist Britain' by the Sutton Trust, 2019

Over-representation by independently-educated people was highest among judges, government ministers and diplomats.

But perhaps more surprisingly, pop stars are more likely to have gone to private school (20%) than male footballers (5%) or university vice-chancellors (16%).

In a statement, the Independent Schools Council said that school type was “not of itself an indicator of economic or social advantage” and that many private schools offered reduced fees or bursaries for low-income families.

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