Katherine Sellgren reports at BBC News online on the new Sutton Trust/SMF Open Access research.

UK children who are privately educated are likely to earn almost £200,000 more between the ages of 26 and 42 those in state schools, research finds.

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) study suggests that a significant “wage premium” exists for those who attend fee-paying schools.


Private education

  • About 7% of children in the UK are educated privately
  • The Independent Schools Council, which represents about 90% of private schools in the UK, listed 511,928 pupils at 1,257 schools in their 2014 census
  • In 2010, 35% of MPs had attended independent schools
  • In 2007, 54% of chief executives of FTSE 100 companies, 51% of top medics, 54% of leading news journalists and 70% of High Court judges had been privately educated
  • A 2011 Sutton Trust report found 48% of independent school pupils were accepted into the 30 most selective universities, compared with 18% for comprehensive schools and the average for all schools being 23.8%
  • The same report showed that 5.2% of independent school pupils were accepted into Oxbridge, compared with 0.8% for comprehensive schools and with the average for all schools 1.8%.

Source: The Sutton Trust


The trust’s Open Access scheme proposes that participating schools should receive the same funding per pupil as local state schools, but charge fees on a means-tested basis, with the poorest families paying nothing.

Read the full report here

The Sutton Trust wants private education to be open to children of all backgrounds

Extending the scheme to 100 leading independent schools, covering 62,500 pupils, would cost the government about £215m per year, the study estimates.

It says that if the initiative were introduced, with pupils selected on merit rather than ability to pay, the social make-up of these private schools would change radically.

The number of children coming from the top 10% of household incomes would roughly halve, while the proportion of children coming from the bottom 40% would more than double.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “This report clearly sets out the advantages that can be gained from a good private education.

“We need to open those opportunities to more young people, transforming the independent sector to ensure that successful day schools recruit once again on merit rather than money.

“Forty years ago, most of the best independent day schools in this country were open to children of all backgrounds. Today, unless your parents can find £12,500 a year after tax, access is by and large denied.”

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