Report Overview

The Sutton Trust analysed the educational background of Theresa May’s new cabinet finding that there are more privately educated ministers than her first cabinet in 2016.

Key Findings
  • 34% of Theresa May’s new cabinet received a private education, a slight increase from her first cabinet in 2016 (30%).
  • 24% of the new cabinet attended selective state schools, which is significantly higher than David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet (7%), but slightly lower than Theresa May’s first cabinet in 2016 (26%).
  • 41% of the new cabinet were educated in comprehensive state schools, compared to 44% in Theresa May’s first cabinet, and 43% in David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet.
  • Overall, 66% of the new cabinet were educated at either a comprehensive or selective state school. This is a slight decrease from Theresa May’s first cabinet (70%), but remains higher than David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet (50%).
  • Cabinet ministers are almost over 5 times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school, compared to the general population.
  • 48% of the new cabinet attended Oxbridge, an increase compared to Theresa May’s first cabinet in 2016 (44%), but still lower than David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet (50%).
  • Comparing the current proportion of privately educated cabinet members to previous cabinets over time, 50% of David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet and 62% of the coalition 2010 cabinet received a private education. 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.


Information on the education of cabinet members was taken primarily from public sources, such as candidates’ campaign web pages. The school and university backgrounds were obtained by using a number of publicly available sources, such as Who’s Who and MPs’ websites. A cabinet member’s education background was classified for the overall analysis as where they spent the majority of their education between the ages of 11-18, more detailed information on each member is also provided.