Boris Johnson’s cabinet is most privately educated for generation, analysis finds

Nearly two in three ministers appointed by prime minister attended independent school

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 25 July 2019 14:13
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Boris Johnson says that 'my job is to serve you the people'

Boris Johnson’s cabinet is the most privately educated for a generation, analysis reveals.

Nearly two in three (64 per cent) of the new prime minister’s cabinet attended a private school, a report from social mobility charity the Sutton Trust found.

Just over a quarter (27 per cent) went to a comprehensive school, while 9 per cent attended a grammar school, according to the analysis.

The proportion of alumni of private schools is more than twice that of Theresa May’s 2016 cabinet (30 per cent) and is more than Cameron’s 2015 cabinet (50 per cent) and the 2010 coalition cabinet (62 per cent).

Cabinet ministers are nine times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school for all or part of their secondary education than the general population, of which 7 per cent went to private schools.

However, the proportion of privately educated ministers in cabinet is less than under Conservative prime ministers John Major (71 per cent in 1992) and Margaret Thatcher (91 per cent in 1979).

The majority of ministers were educated at independent schools – but the chancellor, foreign secretary, home secretary and education secretary were all educated at state schools.

Mr Johnson, who attended the prestigious Eton College before studying at the University of Oxford, has also appointed a significant number (45 per cent) of Oxbridge alumni to his cabinet.

A further 24 per cent of Mr Johnson’s cabinet were educated at other Russell Group universities – the most selective universities in the UK.

It comes after the charity revealed last month that the country’s most influential people are five times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school than the general population.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Britain is an increasingly divided society. Divided by politics, by class, by geography.

“Social mobility, the potential for those to achieve success regardless of their background, remains low. Addressing this must be at the heart of our new prime minister’s tenure in Downing Street.

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He added: “The make-up of Johnson’s cabinet underlines once again how unevenly spread the opportunities are to enter the elites.

“The key to improving social mobility at the top is to tackle financial barriers to entry, adopt contextual recruitment and admissions practices and, critically, to tackle social segregation in schools.”

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