Public schools fill fewer top posts

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FORMER pupils of state and direct grant grammar schools have dislodged former public schoolboys as the majority of Britain's top 50 company chairmen, research by the London School of Economics shows, writes Peter Torday.

The number of chairmen who went to fee-paying public schools has dropped to 15 this year from 29 in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher was first elected Prime Minister. The number of chairmen educated at state schools jumped to 25 this year from 14 in 1979. In 1989, a total of eight chairmen had been educated at 'top' grammar schools, which were financed by direct government grants but became independent in 1974, or double the number a decade earlier. But the total edged down to six in 1993.

Professor Leslie Hannah, of the LSE, said the change marked a shift from the domination of industry by a sometimes indifferent elite towards more professional management. It was a sign of more positive social attitudes towards industry.