New cabinet: 59% of Liz Truss’ ministers went to private schools - compared with UK average of just 7%

The new Education Secretary, Kit Malthouse, is among the cabinet members to have attended a private school

Almost 60% of Liz Truss’ cabinet attended private schools, while more than a third of the cabinet attended Oxbridge.

These include the occupants of three of the four great offices of state and the Education secretary.

Truss herself was not privately educated, and has sought to play down the quality of the school she attended in Roundhay, Leeds, saying it “let children down,” though her comments received pushback from local politicians.

Majority of cabinet are privately-educated

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, all attended fee-paying schools, as did Kit Malthouse.

Kwarteng and Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg both attended Eton, which has produced more prime ministers than any other private school in the UK.

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Almost two thirds of the ministerial team announced so far by Truss attended fee-paying schools, compared with the national average of just 7%.

When it comes to higher education, 34% of Truss’ cabinet, including the prime minister herself, attended Oxbridge.

In 2020, just over 1% of those who attended university went to either Oxford or Cambridge.

The Labour Party has committed to removing the tax exemptions currently enjoyed by many independent schools as a product of their charitable status.

Announcing the policy at the Labour conference last year, Sir Keir Starmer said removing the charitable status and forcing private schools to pay VAT and business tax would raise £1.7 billion, which would be put back into the state education system.

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Writing in the Times earlier this year, Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson said the move would fund the recruitment of “thousands of new teachers,” careers advisors, and improve digital access, “so that young people leave education ready for work and ready for life”.

Following the announcement of this year’s A-level and GCSE results, which showed a more dramatic drop in top grades at private schools than state schools since the reintroduction of public exams after the pandemic, Phillipson said some private schools were “gaming the system”.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who chairs the education select committee, said results showed the private sector had “milked the system for all it was worth”.

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The following cabinet ministers attended private schools:

  • Kwasi Kwarteng - Chancellor
  • James Cleverly - Foreign Secretary
  • Suella Braverman - Home Secretary
  • Ben Wallace - Defence Secretary
  • Brandon Lewis - Justice Secretary
  • Nadhim Zahawi - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Equalities Minister (CABINET)
  • Nicholas True - Lords Leader
  • Jake Berry - Minister without portfolio and Tory party Chair
  • Alok Sharma - COP26 president
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg - Business Secretary
  • Simon Clarke - Leveling Up Secretary
  • Kit Malthouse - Education Secretary
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan - Transport Secretary
  • Alister Jack - Scotland Secretary
  • Robert Buckland - Wales Secretary
  • Graham Stuart - Minister of State (Minister for Climate)
  • Michael Ellis - Attorney General