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|
|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.
“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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