In its response to the Milburn Report on social mobility the government clearly believes that too many people in the professions were educated at independent schools. ISC believes that their analysis is based on a false premise. The government argues that "just 7% of children go to independent schools". In fact recent research by the Independent Schools Council shows that, while 7% of pupils are being educated in independent schools at any one time, around 14% of adults in the UK have received at least part of their education in independent schools. This changes the picture significantly, and they represent a significant minority.
Then one needs to look at why this 14% are so well represented in the professions. When one considers that approximately a third of candidates from independent schools achieve three or more A grades at A-level, that they achieve over 30% of all A grades awarded in A-level in maths, sciences and economics, and over 60% of A grades awarded in languages, and that over 93% of independent school pupils go on to higher education, it is hardly surprising that this is the case.
The CEO of the ISC, David Lyscom, commented:
"The question for the government is not how they "fix" entry to university and the professions, but how they improve education in the maintained sector so that pupils there reach similar levels of achievement. Is the public ready for doctors and lawyers who have been granted academic or other favours in their training, or for senior civil servants to run tax, foreign, defence and other policies whose career prospects have been artificially boosted according to an arbitrary formula? Only a genuine meritocracy will guarantee the highly qualified staff needed to fill these top jobs, and universities and the professions themselves should keep their responsibility for recruitment, free from interference from the government.
The government should also remember that judges, finance directors and senior civil servants are the product of the very different education system in the 60s and early 70s. The government should not introduce disproportionate measures now to address issues that are the result of a historical overhang.
Notes to editors
ISC Mission Statement
The Independent Schools Council (ISC): working with its members to promote and preserve the quality, diversity and excellence of UK independent education both at home and abroad.
ISC represents the eight leading independent schools associations in the UK, collectively educating more than 500,000 children in 1,280 schools in the UK and select British schools overseas. In total, there are around 2,600 independent schools in the UK.
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