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Old School Tie Network Rises to the Top


More than half of the leading figures in UK politics, law, medicine, business and journalism were educated privately, according to research.

Educational charity The Sutton Trust looked at 500 people who had reached the top of their chosen profession and compared them with a similar sample from 20 years earlier. It found that the proportion who had gone to private schools had fallen only slightly since 1987 - from 58% to 53% today.

Private schools educate 7% of children.

Just 17% of the leading figures had attended a state comprehensive, while slightly under a third had been to grammar school.

Dr Lee Elliot Major who conducted the research said: "This analysis shows that the school you attend at age 11 has a huge impact on your life chances, and particularly how likely you are to reach the top of your chosen profession.

"We are still to a large extent a society divided by wealth, with future elites groomed at particular schools and universities, while the educational opportunities available to those from non-privileged backgrounds make it much more difficult for them to reach the top."

When it came to university attendance, the difference over the years was more stark; the proportion from Oxbridge fell from 61% to 47%.

The trust said that while there was an immediate need to improve underperforming state schools, there was a need to understand the UK has a “socially selective” school system.

It also suggested opening up independent schools to pupils from all ackgrounds on the basis of merit.

Leading professionals who were privately educated (2007 list):
Judges 70%
Politicians 38%
Journalists 54%
Medics 51%
CEOs 54%


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