The report, which is published today from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC), examines who is in charge of our country. The report’s research highlights a dramatic over-representation of those educated at independent schools and Oxbridge across the institutions that have such a profound influence on what happens in our country.
Few people believe that the sum total of talent in Britain exists in just 7% of our country’s schools and less than 2% of our universities. The risk is that the more the few dominate our country’s leading institutions, the less likely it is that people believe they can make a valuable contribution.
Some key findings:
research conducted by SMCPC found that 65% of people believe ‘who you know’ is more important than ‘what you know’, and 3 quarters of people think family background has a significant influence on life chances in Britain today
71% of senior judges, 53% of diplomats, 50% of members of the House of Lords, 45% of public body chairs, 44% of the Sunday Times Rich List, 35% of the national rugby teams and 33% of the England cricket team attended independent schools (compared to 7% of the population as a whole)
75% of senior judges, 59% of the cabinet, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomats, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs, 38% of members of the House of Lords and 12% of the Sunday Times Rich List attended Oxbridge (compared to less than 1% of the population as a whole)
59% of the Cabinet and 33% of the Shadow Cabinet attended Oxbridge compared to less than 1% of the UK population as a whole
The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, the Chair of the Commission, said:
We in the Commission hope this report prompts a re-think in the institutions that have such a critical role to play in making Britain a country where success relies on aptitude and ability more than background or birth.
To confront the challenges and seize the opportunities that Britain faces a broader range of experiences and talents need to be harnessed.
The risk, however, is that the more a few dominate our country’s leading institutions the less likely it is that the many believe they can make a valuable contribution.
A closed shop at the top can all too easily give rise to a ‘not for the likes of me’ syndrome in the rest of society.