Theresa May’s Cabinet: New Prime Minister praised for having lowest number of privately-educated ministers in over 70 years

New Cabinet features the lowest proportion of fee-paying ministers since Labour PM Clement Attlee in 1945

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Friday 15 July 2016 09:01 BST
The new PM vows to 'fight against the burning injustice' that 'if you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately'
The new PM vows to 'fight against the burning injustice' that 'if you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately' (AP)

Theresa May has been praised for having the lowest number of privately-educated ministers in a new Prime Minister’s Cabinet in over 70 years.

Social mobility charity, the Sutton Trust, analysed the backgrounds of her new Cabinet to find only 30 per cent have received a private education, the lowest proportion since Labour PM Clement Attlee in 1945.

The move is already reflective of Mrs May’s first statement as leader of the Tory Party when, prior to entering number 10 for the first time as Prime Minister on Wednesday, she said her new Government will be “fighting against the burning injustice” that “if you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately.”

With 44 per cent of ministers educated at non-selective state schools, the new Cabinet has a higher number of comprehensive-educated ministers than David Cameron’s 2015 Cabinet - 43 per cent - or the 2010 Coalition Cabinet, at 21 per cent. With the addition of grammar school alumni, an impressive 70 per cent are state-educated.

The educational background of the new Cabinet:

Ministerial Responsibility Name School Type School University
Prime Minister Theresa May Independent age 11-13; Selective age 13-18 St. Juliana’s Convent School for Girls; Holton Park Girls Grammar School Oxford
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond Comprehensive Shenfield School Oxford
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Independent Eton College Oxford
Home Secretary Amber Rudd Independent Cheltenham Ladies’ College Edinburgh
International Trade Liam Fox Comprehensive St Bride’s High School Glasgow
Exit from EU David Davis Selective Beck Grammar School Warwick
Justice Liz Truss Comprehensive Roundhay School, Leeds Oxford
Defence Michael Fallon Independent Epsom College St Andrew’s
Health Jeremy Hunt Independent Charterhouse Oxford
Education Justine Greening Comprehensive Oakwood Comp School Southampton
International Development Priti Patel Comprehensive Watford Grammar School Keele
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Andrea Leadsom Selective Tonbridge Girls Warwick
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark Comprehensive South Bank St Peter’s Roman Catholic Cambridge
Transport Chris Grayling Selective Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe Cambridge
Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid Comprehensive Downend Comprehensive Exeter
Work and Pensions Damian Green Selective Reading School Oxford
Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley Comprehensive Buxton Girls School Imperial
Cabinet Office Patrick McLoughlin Comprehensive Cardinal Griffin Roman Catholic School None
Scotland  David Mundell Comprehensive Lockerbie Academy Edinburgh
Northern Ireland James Brokenshire Selective Davenant Foundation Grammar Exeter
Wales Alun Cairns Comprehensive Ysgol Ddwyieithog Ystalyfera University of Wales
Leader of the House of Lords Baroness Evans Selective Henrietta Barnett Cambridge
Chief Whip Gavin Williamson Comprehensive Raincliffe Secondary School Bradford University
Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington Independent Haberdashers’ Aske’s Sch Cambridge
Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke Selective Northgate HS Oxford
Attorney General Jeremy Wright Independent Taunton Sch, Somerset Exeter
Cabinet Office Minister Ben Gummer Independent Tonbridge Cambridge

New Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is the only Old Etonian to have remained under Mrs May, while seven ministers went to grammar schools. New Education Secretary, Justine Greening, is the first in the role to have gone to a comprehensive school.

Despite developments, though, Cabinet ministers are still over four times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school for most of their secondary education when compared with the overall UK population, of which just seven per cent went to private school.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said he was “heartened” by Mrs May’s commitment on the importance of social mobility in her first statement. He added: “She was absolutely right to highlight the importance of ensuring that everyone should get as far as their talents can take them.

“Anyone should be able to become a minister, regardless of social background. It is good to see so many more comprehensive and grammar-educated cabinet ministers, reflecting the schools attended by 90 per cent of children.

May's new cabinet

“But these figures remind us how important it is to make sure young people from low and middle income backgrounds also have access to the best schools and the best universities that will enable them to get to the top of so many of our professions which remain largely the preserve of the privately-educated.”

Overall, the proportion of independently-educated ministers attending Cabinet is nearly half that of the previous Cabinet, and much lower than the Coalition 2010 Cabinet, at 62 per cent. This is significantly less than earlier cabinets under Tory PMs - John Major’s with 71 per cent in 1992, and Margaret Thatcher’s at 91 per cent in 1979.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both had 32 per cent of those attending Cabinet privately-educated, while only a quarter of Clement Attlee’s first Cabinet had been to a private school.

The Trust’s analysis came on the day Mrs May carried out “a ruthless reshuffle” which saw her cast out key figures under Mr Cameron while promoting her own allies.

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