School vouchers plan to overcome elitism in jobs

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The Independent Online

Parents with children at persistently failing schools may be given vouchers to enable them to buy a better education elsewhere.

A government-commissioned report said yesterday that increasing elitism in recruitment to the professions needed to be tackled as early as primary school. It found that more than half of senior posts in business, law, medicine and the media were still taken by candidates who went to independent schools, and increasing numbers of wealthy children were landing the most sought-after jobs.

The report, by a cross-party panel chaired by the former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, demanded urgent action to break a "closed shop mentality" in the professions. It said parents at poor schools should be given vouchers to enable their children to go to a better school. This would help people from disadvantaged backgrounds break into the professions, the report argued.

It also said children as young as nine should start receiving careers advice. The report suggested ways of opening universities to a wider social spectrum and called for the professions to provide fuller details of their recruitment policies.

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