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71% of 'top people' went to private school, or grammar school

(282 Posts)
joanbyers Tue 20-Nov-12 13:27:14


"Ten leading independent schools accounted for 12% of the leading people for which schools data was available. These are: Eton College; Winchester College; Charterhouse School; Rugby School; Westminster School; Marlborough College; Dulwich College; Harrow School; St Paul’s Boys’ School; Wellington College (see table 1 for top 100 schools). "

It's interesting that these leading schools are pretty much ALL boarding schools, the significance of which is that the fees tend to be around £30k/year (so I reckon this is as much about parental connections as anything else)

Wellington does not have a glittering academic reputation, sending handfuls to Oxford. Charterhouse, on £32k/year, has a fraction of the Oxbridge admissions of the nearby Royal Grammar School, Guildford (fees only £13k/year) - which is present in the list, at #58, but behind schools for the rich but dim such as Bradfield

The leading independent schools that aren't exclusively boarding schools (and therefore implying super-rich parents) are all in London, which is home of the elite.

The leading comps are Holland Park School, where lefties send their kids for ideological reasons and which has had £10s of millions lavished on it, and Haverstock School, which is likewise a popular choice with the left-wing elite.

Just 10% of 'top people' attended a comprehensive.

Of course these figures are calculated many years in arrears, so not the best guide for the future, but the 44% of leading people who attended private schools I guess will increase, as the 27% who went to grammars die off (i.e. most of the grammar schools listed are now comps)

Xenia Tue 20-Nov-12 13:39:15

Yes, I posted this (from the Times article version) on a couple of other threads today. It's interesting. The Times also interviews a man who is worth £100m (pity it's not a woman) who is one of the 20% of those at the top who didn't even go to university. However people like him do have it harder.

Sutton Trust is worried that as most of the grammars have gone social mobility will get worse not better.

Isn't it just that clever people flock to those areas though? I am from the NE but moved South for work and got my children into what I think Sutton Trust found a few years ago were the 1st and 5th best schools for good university entrance. That was a deliberate choice and would be formed by the fact we are reasonably bright (so they could get in) and interested in interesting well paid careers etc etc.

My 3 who ave graduated are good examples of this. There is a bit of a gulf from my mother's 52 first cousins most of whom we never met who mostly tended to stay where they were. So the social mobility my parents achieved were (a) both being very clever which is probably just inherent and then (b) passing for state grammar schools and (c) picking professions not trades (d) going to university (e) waiting to have children 13 years until they could afford school fees etc etc.

So working this social mobility through the result is the children then did quite well and hopefully our children now will too and a big new issue is my 3 children graduated totally debt free (as most people my age graduated debt free 30 years ago because of grants or parental support) whereas others they studied with tend to have student debt - not that I am saying student debt is unmanageable for many but it is still a difference from 30 years ago and might have social mobility implications. Perhaps we would hvae been better limiting university to the top 15% but keeping those places funded by grants or parents and recognising that many degrees aren't needed and many teachers, nurses and many other jobs just don't really need a degree at all.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 13:42:39


peasabovesticks Tue 20-Nov-12 13:46:10

This is an unpalatable truth. I hope people who support state education will do something to change this rather than go into denial or joke that it's boring.

joanbyers Tue 20-Nov-12 14:01:31

The top schools are actually mostly boarding schools though.

Of the top you've got:

Eton - boarding
Winchester - boarding
Charterhouse - boarding
Rugby - boarding
Westminster - boarding + day
Marlborough - boarding
Dulwich - boarding + day
Harrow - boarding
St Pauls - boarding + day
Wellington - boarding
Stowe - boarding
Shrewsbury - boarding
Highgate - boarding (now day)
Ampleforth - boarding
Habs Boys - day
Bryanston - boarding
St Paul's Girls - day
Tonbridge- boarding
Kings Cantebury - boarding
Sherborne - boarding
Manchester Grammar - day

There isn't a particular link to the London elite, the link actually appears to be the ability (or desire, perhaps) to pay £££ for boarding fees.

This is obviously historical/retrospective and not a predictor of the future, perhaps modern successful parents (who will tend to begat successful children) are now sending their children more to London day schools and less to boarding schools in shitholes like Rugby, but who knows....

Precious few girls schools on the list btw....

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 20-Nov-12 14:05:11

So, first question; how are they defining 'leading people'?

OK, so it's people who appeared in the Times/Indie birthday announcements. Scientific! grin OK, so the data are what they are, let's move on.

Last page of the report is maybe the most relevant to the thread title, it splits various professions into their school backgrounds. The biggest % for 'Independent' are; Armed Forces, Business, Financial Services, Law and 'Public Service' (eh? is this a euphemism for 'royalty'?)

Not really any surprises there.

For example, I bet the 'notable' lawyers are the ones who have gone down the barrister/QC/judge route, which is coincidentally the one where family connections and cash are the most useful. The state school kid who's now a partner at Allen & Overy, say, through talent and hard work, isn't going to make their list.

NewFerry Tue 20-Nov-12 14:06:24

Looking at the table the figures are

44% - Independent schools
27% - Grammar schools
21% - Comprehensive/secondary modern schools
8% - direct grant schools (Wikipedia tells me that these received approx half their funding from the LEA and the other half from private pupils )

So, you could say that (27+21) 48% of successful people went to state schools as compared to 52% at independent schools.

Or, that those who argue in favour of state selection at 11 should take note that those at Grammar schools were only 7% more successful than those at comprehensive schools

I guess it depends how you read the statistics.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:08:42


chewing over a newspaper story that is based on dubious numbers (I won't even credit them with being statistics) is not going to make one iota of difference.

Me making sure that my comp educated kids get to the top of the heap will, so that is where my energy is going.

joanbyers Tue 20-Nov-12 14:13:12

TP, there are comp-educated kids in every field of life, the report shows that. Presumably their parents made sure they got to the top of the heap (or they did it themselves, or whatever).

Private education does not guarantee success, any more than comprehensive education ascertains failure.There is just a correlation between success and educational background.

peasabovesticks Tue 20-Nov-12 14:13:43

So you don't care about the other state educated children then TalkinPeace ?

And it's usually private school parents who are accused of only being concerned with their own children's outcomes.

joanbyers Tue 20-Nov-12 14:16:17

> So, you could say that (27+21) 48% of successful people went to state schools as compared to 52% at independent schools.

Yes that's true, but only 7% of the population is educated privately, 93% at state, so that makes you about 8 times more likely to be successful if you went to private school.

> Or, that those who argue in favour of state selection at 11 should take note that those at Grammar schools were only 7% more successful than those at comprehensive schools

They weren't 7% more successful. A much smaller % of the population went to grammar school than a comp, I don't know the numbers, but if say 10% of people went to grammars, and 80% to state, that makes the grammar school kids about 3 time more successful! Not 7%!

> I guess it depends how you read the statistics.


TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:25:10

I care about all children, I've been a school governor, a PTA treasurer, I've helped out at school, DH works some of the time in widening participation at RG unis

I just find these threads insufferably irritating, full of posts based on poor extrapolations of incomplete, outdated and biased data sets

joanbyers Tue 20-Nov-12 14:26:57

Here's a not unrelated story:

Basically state schools don't prepare students adequately to study maths at Oxbridge. Presumably because GCSEs and A levels are so easy these days, and state schools will understandably teach to the test.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:29:34

yeah, state schools are just shit at everything
tough on the 90% of the population who can afford no better.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 20-Nov-12 14:31:38

Frankly, I don't think there is an easy way of changing it. People are always going to give jobs to their friends and relatives. Certain jobs (eg barrister) are much easier to get into if you can afford to live in London and work for peanuts for a few years. <shrug>

It is a shame for the UK as a whole though, I think. We end up with companies - and the country, to an extent - being run by the boys who went to the right school and knew the right people, rather than actually being the best for the job. The whole country loses out, really, but what can you do? Revolution? Not today, I've got the school run.

joanbyers Tue 20-Nov-12 14:34:30

We'd all best move to Winchester, eh.

My local sixth form college boasts of 14% to ST30 unis.....

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:36:28

I don't live in Winchester. But the bus to PSC goes past my door every morning and afternoon ....

Farewelltoarms Tue 20-Nov-12 14:42:16

I think it's so simplistic to interpret these as a state v private thing. a) it's an establishment paper's birthday lists, b) Eton supplies about as much as the next six or seven put together c) more shocking than the boarding school thing is the lack of women.
If you think that sending your child to some provincial private school is going to catapult him/her to the head of the judiciary, then you're wrong. The gulf between the 'top' (by this reckoning) private schools and other private schools is wider than between private and state generally.
For what it's worth I went to a private school and I can say it hasn't helped me to network in any way. There are way more famous/successful alumni from my children's 50% FSM inner city primary than from the vast majority of schools from either sector. Influence and success are results of many different factors: talent, parents, geography, opportunity, connections, education and it's a complex algorithm.

Lilymaid Tue 20-Nov-12 14:43:45

So who are these top people and why are they top?
I noticed that DS' school doesn't get in the list, though it is always in the top ranks for academic achievement. But then, its pupils go on to be doctors/academics/scientists/engineers/other professionals rather than politicians/actors/footballers.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:45:49

apparently its the people who get their birthday listed in the Times - so mostly fuckwit politicians.
If it was done on high earners, and included a lot of the boys in braces in the city, the balance would be very, very different.

peasabovesticks Tue 20-Nov-12 14:48:55


Not all barristers have to work in London.

ISingSoprano Tue 20-Nov-12 14:51:54

feels grateful for the random decision we took to live in Winchester and thus giving our dc's the opportunity to go to PSC wink

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 20-Nov-12 14:52:09

joanbyers, I can't read the Times article in full. The gist is that an ind. student applying for Maths at Cambridge is twice as likely to be accepted as state; at Oxford they're 50% more likely?

Although I did notice that 'Science' in the Sutton Trust paper was one of the least independent-dominated professions, 34%. And they'll be your Richard Dawkins' (Oundle) and your Robert Winstons (St Paul's). I think the next generation of scientists will be even less 'indie'.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 20-Nov-12 14:54:51

Indeed, peas, but I get the impression that provincial types are rather less favoured when it comes to handing out the old silk, no? Certainly less remunerated.

loveroflife Tue 20-Nov-12 14:58:38

"Top" according to who? Are you a "top person" if you went to one of the mentioned schools? A good education doesn't make a person into a "top" person. Is that person still considered a "top" person if they have a narrow view of life, only mixing with others from fortunate backgrounds and privilege?

The merits of a "top person" would take too long to debate, but is someone compassionate, kind, aware of ALL walks of life and can relate to anyone in any situation and their circumstances.

What the report should read is 71% of people who went to private or grammar school are fortunate enough to work in careers that pay four/five time above the national average.

It's laughable to define an individual as a "top person" by their desired career and how much money they earn. Bankers anyone?

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