How Private Schools Shape the UK’s Power Elite

How Private Schools Shape the UK's Power Elite

The influence of private schooling on the professional success and societal impact of individuals in the UK is substantial, a pattern deeply embedded in the educational fabric of the nation. Despite private school students representing a minor portion of the overall student population—6.4% in England, and even less in other UK regions—their impact on both the economic and societal spheres is disproportionately large.

A Small Sector with a Big Impact

Private schools in the UK, while catering to a small demographic, wield a significant portion of educational resources—about 15% of total school resources for only a minor segment of the population. This disparity is even more pronounced among students aged 16 to 19, where 18% are privately educated, a figure that climbs in significance when considering the traditional progression of these students to prestigious universities and influential careers.

The Educational Advantage

The resource gap between private and state schools is the most glaring indicator of inequality within the UK educational system. This gap ensures that private schools can offer smaller class sizes, more specialised teachers, and superior facilities. Notably, the impact of these advantages is not confined to academia alone but extends into future earnings and occupational status. Privately educated individuals are more likely to attain high-status roles and command higher salaries. For example, at age 25, the pay premium for privately educated individuals stood at 17%, and this figure increases with age, reflecting a sustained advantage over their state-educated peers.

Dominance in Public Life

The representation of privately educated individuals in significant positions of power and influence is stark. For instance, privately educated individuals make up 39% of the UK cabinet and 34% of FTSE company chairs. This overrepresentation is not limited to politics and business but extends across the media and other sectors, underlining the profound social and cultural influence exerted by this group.

Addressing the Imbalance

The significant resources and social capital accessible to private school alumni not only facilitate individual success but also perpetuate a cycle of inequality. This systemic imbalance raises important questions about the fairness of access to opportunity and the broader implications for social mobility.

To mitigate these disparities, serious considerations are being given to reforms that could include expanding access to private schools beyond the wealthy elite, thus potentially democratizing the benefits of high-quality education. Proposals such as increasing means-tested bursaries and integrating more state-funded placements in private schools are on the table, aiming to create a more level playing field.

The CHS Advantages in Private Education

Cambridge Home School Online (CHS) exemplifies an affordable, yet academically rigorous alternative within the UK’s private education landscape. Offering a complete spectrum of the British curriculum, CHS makes top-tier education accessible to a diverse student body globally. Here’s a look at the advantages that make CHS a compelling choice for families seeking quality education with cost-efficiency.

Accessible Excellence

CHS’s annual fees are set at £9,950 GBP, significantly lower compared to traditional private schooling costs, making it a financially viable option for many families. Primary Prep School fees are even more accessible at £5,450 GBP. Despite its affordability, CHS does not compromise on the quality of education, placing in the top 4% of British independent private schools.

Academic Achievements

The school boasts impressive academic results: 63% of all GCSE grades were A*/A grades. Specific highlights include 100% of GCSE Music and Psychology grades at A*, 75% of GCSE French grades at A*, and their highest achieving A-Level student obtaining 3 A* Grades and 2 A Grades. CHS’s commitment to excellence is further underscored by the fact that 100% of their A-Level students received offers from top universities, including Cambridge.

Financial Support and Opportunities

Understanding the financial strain that private education can place on families, CHS offers both scholarships and bursaries to support talented students in need. Scholarships are awarded to pupils exhibiting world-class abilities in their fields and are not means-tested, focusing instead on merit and exceptional talent. Bursaries, on the other hand, offer up to 50% off school fees and are means-tested, designed to assist families who might not otherwise afford the fees.

Conditions for Financial Assistance

Bursaries at CHS are available under specific conditions, ensuring that support is targeted effectively:

  • The family’s household income must be below specific thresholds with reasonable property ownership.
  • Applicants must demonstrate exceptional ability in core subjects or talents such as music or sports.
  • Commitment to the school for a minimum of three years is required to provide stability in the student’s education.

Limitations and Commitments

Scholarships and bursaries at CHS are limited and highly competitive, requiring families to actively support the school’s promotional activities. These awards are contingent on maintaining high academic standards and can be adjusted or withdrawn if the family’s financial situation improves or if the academic performance drops.

In Conclusion

The influence of private schooling on the formation of the UK’s most influential echelons is undeniable. Addressing this issue is crucial for fostering a society where success and influence are based on merit rather than background. Reforms aimed at reducing educational inequality could not only alter the trajectory of individual lives but also reshape the societal landscape, making it more inclusive and equitable.


This analysis is based on insights from Francis Green’s study in the “IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities” sponsored by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Foundation. The data underscores the profound impact of private schooling on societal inequality and the pervasive advantage it confers upon its alumni.


What percentage of students in England are privately educated?

Despite only making up a minor fraction of the total student population, 6.4% of students in England attend private schools. This percentage is even smaller in other parts of the UK.

How significant is the resource allocation to private schools in the UK?

Private schools control approximately 15% of the total resources dedicated to schooling in the UK, despite catering to a relatively small segment of the student population.

What advantages do privately educated individuals have in their careers?

Individuals who have been privately educated are more likely to secure high-status jobs and earn higher salaries compared to their state-educated peers. For example, at age 25, the income advantage for those privately educated stands at about 17%, and this advantage tends to increase with age.

How represented are privately educated individuals in the UK’s influential positions?

A significant proportion of influential positions in the UK are held by those who attended private schools. For instance, 39% of the UK cabinet and 34% of FTSE company chairs are privately educated, indicating their substantial representation in key roles across various sectors.

What reforms are considered to address the disparities in education access?

To address the educational disparities, proposals are in place to expand access to private education beyond the affluent, through means such as increasing bursaries and integrating more state-funded placements in private schools. These efforts aim to democratize access to high-quality education and create a more equitable system.