30% of Theresa May’s new cabinet received a private education, the lowest proportion for a new Prime Minister’s cabinet since Attlee in 1945, Sutton Trust analysis published today reveals.

With 44% educated at non-selective state schools, the new cabinet has a higher proportion of comprehensive educated ministers than David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet (43%) or the 2010 coalition cabinet (21%). With the addition of grammar school alumni, 70% are state educated.

Cabinet ministers are still over 4 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% went to private schools.

However, the proportion of independently educated ministers attending Cabinet is nearly half that of the previous cabinet (50%) and much lower than the coalition 2010 cabinet (62%). it is significantly less than earlier cabinets under Conservative Prime Ministers, John Major (71% in 1992) and Margaret Thatcher (91% in 1979). Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both had 32% of those attending cabinet privately educated, while 25% of Clement Attlee’s first cabinet had been privately educated.

70% of cabinet ministers were educated in state schools, compared with 21% of the cabinet in 2010 and 43% in 2015. 26% attended state grammar schools from the age of 11, while the Prime Minister did so from the age of 13.

Of the 27 ministers attending Theresa May’s new cabinet, 44% went to Oxford or Cambridge universities. This compares with 32% of backbench Conservative MPs in the 2015 parliament, and 26% of all MPs who attended Oxbridge. 50% of David Cameron’s 2010 cabinet were Oxbridge-educated

A further 41% were educated at other Russell Group universities (excluding Oxbridge), compared to 25% of backbench Conservatives and 28% of all MPs.

Prime Minister Theresa May continues the academic dynasty at Number 10 that stretches back to before the start of World War 2: with the exception of Gordon Brown, every Prime Minister since 1937 who attended university was educated at one institution – Oxford.

Last year Parliamentary Privilege – the MPs, a research brief published by the Sutton Trust showed that 32% of the new House of Commons elected in 2015 were privately educated. Around half (48%) of Conservative MPs attended fee-paying schools, compared to 14% of Liberal Democrats, 5% of SNP MPs for whom we had data and 17% of Labour MPs. Among other MPs, 24% went to a fee-paying school. However, the proportion of privately educated Conservative MPs had fallen from 54% in the last parliament and 73% in 1979.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation said today:

”I was heartened by the new Prime Minister’s declaration on the importance of social mobility in her remarks outside number 10 on Wednesday evening. She was absolutely right to highlight the importance of ensuring that everyone should get as far as their talents can take them.

“Anyone should be able to become a minister, regardless of social background. It is good to see so many more comprehensive and grammar educated cabinet ministers, reflecting the schools attended by 90 per cent of children. But today’s figures remind us how important it is to make sure that young people from low and middle income backgrounds also have access to the best schools and the best universities that will enable them to get to the top of so many of our professions which remain largely the preserve of the privately educated.”


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 170 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. Parliamentary Privilege – the MPspublished by the Sutton Trust in 2015, looked at the educational background the new House of Commons.
  3. Prime Minister Theresa May attended an independent fee-paying school from the ages of 11-13, and then attended a state grammar school. To ensure consistent comparisons with previous analysis, the data reflects the status of the school attended at age 11. Direct grant schools are treated as ‘selective’ for ministers who attended them while they remained state funded.
  4. The information in this brief was correct at 18.00 on 14 July 2016.
 Table 1: School and university backgrounds for individual Ministers attending Cabinet
Ministerial ResponsibilityNameSchool TypeSchoolUniversity
Prime MinisterTheresa MayIndependent age 11-13; Selective age 13-18St. Juliana’s Convent School for Girls; Holton Park Girls Grammar SchoolOxford
Chancellor of the ExchequerPhilip HammondComprehensiveShenfield SchoolOxford
Foreign SecretaryBoris JohnsonIndependentEton CollegeOxford
Home SecretaryAmber RuddIndependentCheltenham Ladies’ CollegeEdinburgh
International TradeLiam FoxComprehensiveSt Bride’s High SchoolGlasgow
Exit from EUDavid DavisSelectiveBeck Grammar SchoolWarwick
JusticeLiz TrussComprehensiveRoundhay School, LeedsOxford
DefenceMichael FallonIndependentEpsom CollegeSt Andrew’s
HealthJeremy HuntIndependentCharterhouseOxford
EducationJustine GreeningComprehensiveOakwood Comp SchoolSouthampton
International DevelopmentPriti PatelComprehensiveWatford Grammar SchoolKeele
Environment, Food and Rural AffairsAndrea LeadsomSelectiveTonbridge GirlsWarwick
Business, Energy and Industrial StrategyGreg ClarkComprehensiveSouth Bank St Peter’s Roman CatholicCambridge
TransportChris GraylingSelectiveRoyal Grammar School, High WycombeCambridge
Communities and Local GovernmentSajid JavidComprehensiveDownend ComprehensiveExeter
Work and PensionsDamian GreenSelectiveReading SchoolOxford
Culture, Media and SportKaren BradleyComprehensiveBuxton Girls SchoolImperial
Cabinet OfficePatrick McLoughlinComprehensiveCardinal Griffin Roman Catholic SchoolNone
Scotland David MundellComprehensiveLockerbie AcademyEdinburgh
Northern IrelandJames BrokenshireSelectiveDavenant Foundation GrammarExeter
WalesAlun CairnsComprehensiveYsgol Ddwyieithog YstalyferaUniversity of Wales
Leader of the House of LordsBaroness EvansSelectiveHenrietta BarnettCambridge
Chief WhipGavin WilliamsonComprehensiveRaincliffe Secondary SchoolBradford University
Leader of the House of CommonsDavid LidingtonIndependentHaberdashers’ Aske’s SchCambridge
Chief Secretary to the TreasuryDavid GaukeSelectiveNorthgate HSOxford
Attorney GeneralJeremy WrightIndependentTaunton Sch, SomersetExeter
Cabinet Office MinisterBen GummerIndependentTonbridgeCambridge


Table 2: School backgrounds of Ministers and MPs in the 2015 Parliament
 Total with known dataIndependentComprehensiveState selective
All MPs92%32%49%19%
Conservative Backbenchers94%48%33%19%

Table 3: University backgrounds of Ministers and MPs in the 2015 Parliament

 Total with known dataOxbridgeOther Russell GroupOther None 
All MPs (2015)96%26%28%35%11%
Conservative Backbenchers97% 32% 25% 32%10%


On the 17th July, three days after the original post, it was announced that Baroness Anelay of St Johns will also being attending Cabinet as Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. Baroness Anelay was educated at Enfield County School a comprehensive, and attended the University of Bristol. This means 29% of the Cabinet is privately educated (rather than 30%) 43% went to Oxbridge (rather than 44%) and 43% went to a Russell Group university (rather than 41%). The Cabinet remains the most state educated cabinet since Clement Attlee’s in 1945.

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