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Breaking New Ground: The State-Schooled Dominance of Sir Keir Starmer’s Cabinet



Public or Independent Education? Examining the Academic Histories of the Latest Cabinet Members

The latest cabinet sets a new precedent with a high count of ministers who attended public schools. Sky News delves into the educational histories of each member of Sir Keir Starmer's newly formed senior team.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024, 6:

The latest Labour cabinet features an unprecedented number of ministers who attended public schools.

According to a study by The Sutton Trust, among the 25 cabinet members, only one attended a private school and another one a grammar school, while the vast majority, 92%, were educated at comprehensive schools.

In contrast, only 19% of the ministers in the administrations of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss attended public schools.

Approximately 6% of UK children attend private schools, indicating that this cabinet's educational background is largely representative of the broader population.

However, the trend deviates when considering higher education, as 40% of cabinet ministers are Oxbridge alumni, whereas less than 1% of the UK population has attended either Oxford or Cambridge.

Sky News examines the academic histories of each member in Sir Keir Starmer's newly appointed senior group.

The Right Honourable Keir Starmer, Prime Minister

Type of school: Academic

Sir Keir pursued his undergraduate degree in law at the University of Leeds and subsequently obtained his postgraduate degree from Oxford University.

He enrolled in a selective state school which was publicly funded during his initial years. However, two years after he joined, the institution transitioned into a private school.

Angela Rayner, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Levelling Up

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Rayner did not pursue higher education. She exited high school at the age of 16 without earning any qualifications due to her pregnancy with her first son.

Following the birth of her child, Ms. Rayner attended college on a part-time basis, where she pursued studies in British Sign Language and social care.

Rachel Reeves holds the position of

Type of school: Inclusive

She pursued her undergraduate studies in philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Oxford and later obtained a master's degree in economics from the London School of Economics.

Ms. Reeves attended a girls-only comprehensive school in Beckenham, south London, where she felt the school truly supported her and provided all the necessary resources for her success.

She characterized herself as a "nerd," disclosing that she took SATs exams on her own after her school opted out of them.

Pat McFadden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. McFadden pursued his studies in politics at the University

David Lammy, Secretary of State for Foreign

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Lammy pursued his legal studies at SOAS before making history as the first black British individual to enroll at Harvard Law School, where he earned a Master of Laws degree.

He has criticized Oxford University for its inadequate acceptance rates of black and ethnic minority students.

Yvette Cooper, Secretary of State for the

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Cooper studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University before receiving a Kennedy Scholarship to pursue further education at Harvard University.

She completed her graduate degree in economics from the London School of Economics.

John Healey, Secretary of Defense

Type of school: All-encompassing; standalone upper secondary institution

Mr. Healey primarily attended a comprehensive school before transferring to a private institution for his final two years of study.

He pursued studies in social and political science at Cambridge University.

Stay informed on the most recent developments from the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood

Educational structure: Inclusive; academically selective for post-16

Ms. Mahmood did not pass the 11-plus exam necessary for entry into a grammar school, and consequently, she attended the nearby comprehensive school.

She has mentioned that she continued to be a "complete nerd," and after her GCSEs, she attended a grammar school.

She pursued a degree in law at Oxford University.

Wes Streeting, Secretary of State for Health

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Streeting pursued his studies in history at the University of

Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Phillipson was raised in a council house, and she has shared experiences of being ostracized in school due to other parents discouraging their children from associating with someone from her background.

She attended a weekend drama school, which helped her secure a part as a background actor in the television show "Byker Grove."

She pursued modern history at Oxford University and was elected as a co-chair of the university's Labour club.

Ed Miliband holds the position of

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Miliband pursued Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford before obtaining a master's degree in economics from the London School of Economics.

Discover more: Unveiling the Key Figures in Keir Starmer’s Closest Team and Anticipating the Government’s Initial 100-Day Agenda

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Liz Kendall, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Kendall attended Watford Grammar School, a school that, despite its name, has a partially selective admission policy. She was classmates with ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

She pursued her studies in history at the University of Cambridge.

Jonathan Reynolds, Secretary of Business and Trade

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Reynolds pursued his education in politics and contemporary history at the University of Manchester.

He subsequently pursued legal studies as an older student, obtaining a graduate diploma in law (GDL) and a legal practice course (LPC) at BPP Law School in Manchester.

Peter Kyle, Secretary of Science, Innovation, and Technology

Type of school: Inclusive

After grappling with severe, unrecognized dyslexia during his school years, Mr. Kyle pursued higher education at 25, inspired by a coworker at the Body Shop.

While studying at the University of Sussex, he was identified as dyslexic and eventually earned a PhD in community economic development.

Louise Haigh, secretary of transportation

Type of institution: Independent

Ms. Haigh attended Sheffield High School, a private educational institution.

She pursued studies in government and economics at the London School of Economics but did not complete the program, eventually earning a degree in politics from the University of Nottingham.

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Steve Reed, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Reed pursued his English degree at the University of Sheffield, becoming the first person in his family to attend a university.

Lisa Nandy, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Nandy pursued her undergraduate degree in politics at Newcastle University and later obtained a master’s degree in public policy from Birkbeck, University of London.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Benn earned his degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies at the University of Sussex.

Ian Murray, Secretary for Scotland

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Murray earned a degree with honors in social policy and law from the University of Edinburgh.

Jo Stevens, Secretary for Wales

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Stevens pursued her law degree at Manchester University and later completed her solicitors' professional exam at Manchester Polytechnic.

Lucy Powell, head of the House of Commons

Type of school: Inclusive

Ms. Powell pursued her chemistry studies at both the University of Oxford and King's College London.

Angela Smith, head of the House of Lords

Type of school: Inclusive

Baroness Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Leicester Polytechnic.

Alan Campbell, principal party enforcer

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Campbell pursued his studies in politics at Lancaster University, followed by obtaining a PGCE from the University of Leeds.

He completed his studies at Newcastle Polytechnic, where he earned a master's degree in history.

Darren Jones, principal assistant to the Treasury

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Jones pursued a degree in human bioscience at Plymouth University, during which time he was voted in as the president of the student union.

Richard Hermer, chief legal advisor

Type of school: Inclusive

Mr. Hermer pursued his education in politics and contemporary history at the University of Manchester.

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