Increase in number of MPs from private schools

Education Editor,Richard Garner
Sunday 23 October 2011 04:39

The class of 2010 is a far more elitist Parliament than its predecessor with an increase in the number of MPs going to independent schools, Eton and Oxford or Cambridge.

Figures published today show a three percentage point rise in the number of ex private school pupils amongst this year’s intake of MPs to 35 per cent.

It brings to a halt a steady decline in their influence over the past 18 years.

In addition, the number of ex-Etonians has shot up by a third – from 15 to 20. Nineteen of them are Conservatives – the 20th being a Liberal Democrat.

The research is published by the education charity the Sutton Trust, set up by millionaire philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl to campaign for more access for youngsters from disadvantaged communities to leading schools and universities.

The research shows that nine out of ten MPs went to university – by far the highest proportion of any Parliament to date. Three out of ten went to Oxbridge with Oxford being the alma mater of 102 of the 649 MPs.

A breakdown shows 38 per cent of Conservative MPs went to Oxbridge compared to 28 per cent of Liberal Democrats and 20 per cent of Labour.

“These results show clearly that the educational profile of our representatives in the 2010 Parliament does not reflect society at large.

“One major obstacle to ensuring talented people from all backgrounds reach public office is the educational inequality that continues to hold back social mobility in this country.

“Every newly elected MP would surely hope that the chances of bright children in their own constituencies have of becoming an MP does not depend on how much their parents earn and where they happen to go to school.”

The study shows that 54 per cent of Conservatives MPs attended fee paying schools compared with 40 per cent of Liberal Democrats. Only 15 per cent of Labour MPs did so. This compares to just seven per cent of people in the country at large.

A major factor behind the increase in ex-private school pupils is the election of more Conservative MPs.

Less than half (43 per cent) of this year’s intake attended comprehensive schools – while 22 per cent went to state grammar schools.

“Children at leading independent and state schools dominate entry to the country’s most highly academically selective universities, which in turn produce the lion’s share of graduates in the profession,” says the research.

In all, 13 schools – 12 of which are fee-paying – are responsible for producing on tenth of all the MPs in the new parliament.

Second equal behind Eton for producing MPs are Highgate and Millfield schools – each of which have produced five MPs. The only state school to break into the top 13 is Reading, a selective grammar school.

Ironically, the percentage of Conservative MPs to go to private schools at 54 per cent is lower than in any previous party. It is just that their increased numbers has led to the overall figure rising.

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