Sally Weale reported for The Guardian on our Leading People 2016 report.
A privately educated elite continues to dominate the UK’s leading professions, taking top jobs in fields as diverse as the law, politics, medicine and journalism, according to new research.
The Sutton Trust educational charity has been carrying out similar surveys for more than a decade, and though it reports “small signs” of progress, this year’s results confirm what has long been known – that if you have a private education, you are considerably more likely to get to the top of British public life.
Although just 7% of the population attend independent fee-paying schools, the survey reveals that almost three quarters (71%) of top military officers were educated privately, with 12% having been taught in comprehensive schools.
Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust, said: “Our research shows that your chances of reaching the top in so many areas of British life are very much greater if you went to an independent school.
“As well as academic achievement, an independent education tends to develop essential skills such as confidence, articulacy and teamwork, which are vital to career success.
“The key to improving social mobility at the top is to open up independent schools to all pupils based on merit not money … as well as support for highly able students in state schools.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, called for better – and earlier – careers education in schools. “Once again the Sutton Trust has shown that not all professions are representative of the country at large, something school leaders will read with interest.
“Schools are engines of social mobility, showing that through hard work and application, all pupils can aspire to fulfil their potential, whatever that may be.”
Read her full report here.