UK social mobility 'low and not improving', study finds

A new study has revealed that “social mobility across the UK is low and not improving” with those who went to fee-paying schools still massively over-represented in public life compared to the small percentage who attend them.

Latest stories direct in your inbox

Sign up for the free Red Alert email:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The report by the Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission has found that the 7% who attend independent, fee-paying schools make up 65% of senior judges, 59% of Permanent Secretaries, 57% of Lords, 52% of diplomats and 52% of junior Ministers.

44% of newspaper columnists also attended independent schools, as did 43% of the ‘News Media 100’ including influential editors and broadcasters, with 36% graduating from Oxbridge. 29% of BBC executives also attended independent schools.

Meanwhile 57% of Lords and 39% of the Cabinet attended independent schools, as did 29% of MPs overall.

Overall, 39% of ‘the elite’ were found to be have been privately-educated.

Professions that were analysed with the lowest percentage of independent school attendance includes women’s football (2%), men’s football (5%), local government CEOS (9%) and Vice-Chancellors (16%). The Shadow Cabinet was also only 9% independently educated.

Recommendations from the Sutton Trust include: “Social diversity should be a key mission across the whole of British society to ensure we make use of the talents of people from all backgrounds.

“Enacting the ‘socio-economic duty’ clause of the Equality Act 2010 should form the centrepiece of this. Obligating public bodies to give due regard to how they can reduce the impact of socio-economic disadvantage would send a powerful signal.”

They also argue that when it comes to education: “School admissions processes need to tackle social segregation in schools.

“High performing comprehensives, grammar schools and independent schools should all do more to increase the numbers of pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”