State or private school? The education backgrounds of the new cabinet | Politics News

The new Labour cabinet has a record number of state-educated ministers. 

Out of 25 cabinet members, just one went to private school and one to grammar, with the remainder – 92% – attending comprehensive school, according to analysis by The Sutton Trust.

By comparison, in the cabinets of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss just 19% of ministers were state educated.

About 6% of children in the UK go to private school, meaning this cabinet closely reflects the educational experiences of the general public.

But that starts to diverge when you look at higher education, with 40% of cabinet ministers having studied at Oxbridge, compared to less than 1% of the UK population.

Sky News looks at the educational background of each of Sir Keir Starmer’s new top team.

Sir Keir Starmer, prime minister

School type: Grammar

Sir Keir studied law at the University of Leeds before gaining his postgraduate degree at Oxford.

His school was a selective state school when he joined and his place was state-funded throughout his time there, but became a private school two years into his time there.

Angela Rayner, deputy prime minister and levelling up secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Rayner did not go to university. She left school at 16 with no qualifications when she was pregnant with her first son.

After giving birth, Ms Rayner went to college part-time, studying British sign language and social care.

Rachel Reeves, chancellor

School type: Comprehensive

She read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at the University of Oxford before gaining a master’s in economics from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Ms Reeves was educated at an all-girls comprehensive school in Beckenham, south London, which she said “really believed” in her and “gave me everything I needed to get on”.

She described herself as “swot”, revealing she did SATs exams in her free time after her school boycotted them.

Pat McFadden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

School type: Comprehensive

Mr McFadden studied politics at Edinburgh University.

Keir Starmer chairs the first meeting of his cabinet in 10 Downing Street.
Pic:Reuters
Image:
Sir Keir Starmer chairs the first cabinet meeting. Pic: Reuters


David Lammy, foreign secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Lammy studied law at SOAS and later became the first black Briton to attend Harvard Law School, where he gained a master of laws degree.

He has condemned Oxford University for not accepting enough black and ethnic minority students.

Yvette Cooper, home secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Cooper read PPE at Oxford University and was then awarded a Kennedy Scholarship to study at Harvard University.

She finished her studies with a master’s in economics at LSE.

John Healey, defence secretary

School type: Comprehensive; independent sixth form college

Mr Healey was mostly educated at a comprehensive but went to a private school for his last two years.

He then studied social and political science at the University of Cambridge.

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Shabana Mahmood, justice secretary

School type: Comprehensive; grammar for sixth form college

Ms Mahmood failed the 11-plus exam that would have granted her a place at grammar school, instead attending the local comprehensive.

But she has said she remained a “full-blown geek”, and she went to a grammar school after GCSEs.

She studied law at the University of Oxford.

Wes Streeting, health secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Streeting studied history at Cambridge University.

Bridget Phillipson, education secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Phillipson’s family grew up in a council house, and she has described being “bullied at school” because “parents didn’t want their children mixing with people like me”.

She went to drama school on the weekends, which landed her a role as an extra in the TV series Byker Grove.

She studied modern history at the University of Oxford, where she became co-chair of the university Labour club.

Ed Miliband, energy secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Miliband read PPE at University of Oxford and then gained a master’s in economics at LSE.

Read more:
Who’s who in Keir Starmer’s inner circle
What to expect from the government’s first 100 days

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New PM chairs first cabinet

Liz Kendall, work and pensions secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Kendall went to Watford Grammar School – which despite its name is only partially selective. She was at school with former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

She went on to study history at the University of Cambridge.

Jonathan Reynolds, business and trade secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Reynolds studied politics and modern history at the University of Manchester.

He later enrolled in law school as a mature student, gaining a graduate diploma in law (GDL) and legal practice course (LPC) at BPP Law School in Manchester.

Peter Kyle, science, innovation and technology secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Having struggled with severe undiagnosed dyslexia at school, Mr Kyle went to university aged 25 after encouragement from a colleague at the Body Shop.

At the University of Sussex he was diagnosed with dyslexia and ultimately gained a PhD in community economic development.

Louise Haigh, transport secretary

School type: Private

Ms Haigh went to Sheffield High School, an independent school.

She studied government and economics at LSE but did not finish the course, going on to graduate with a degree in politics from the University of Nottingham.

Steve Reed, environment, food and rural affairs secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Reed studied English at the University of Sheffield – the first member of his family to go to university.

Lisa Nandy, culture, media and sport secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Nandy studied politics at Newcastle University before gaining a master’s in public policy at Birkbeck, University of London.

Hilary Benn, Northern Ireland secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Benn graduated in Russian and Eastern European Studies from the University of Sussex.

Ian Murray, Scottish secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Murray gained an honours degree in social policy and law from the University of Edinburgh.

Jo Stevens, Welsh secretary

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Stevens studied law at Manchester University before completing the solicitors’ professional examination at Manchester Polytechnic.

Lucy Powell, leader of the House of Commons

School type: Comprehensive

Ms Powell studied chemistry at the University of Oxford and King’s College London.

Angela Smith, leader of the House of Lords

School type: Comprehensive

Baroness Smith graduated with a BA in public administration from Leicester Polytechnic.

Alan Campbell, chief whip

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Campbell studied politics at Lancaster University and then gained a PGCE from the University of Leeds.

He finished his education at Newcastle Polytechnic, gaining a master’s in history.

Darren Jones, chief secretary to the Treasury

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Jones studied human bioscience at Plymouth University, where he was elected president of the students’ union.

Richard Hermer, attorney general

School type: Comprehensive

Mr Hermer studied politics and modern history at the University of Manchester.

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