That The Privately Educated Dominate The Top Jobs

From our Swindon Correspondent:

The BBC tells us that:

A social mobility charity says top professions in the UK are still unduly dominated by people who have gone through private schools and Oxford and Cambridge universities. The Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission analysed the educational background of 5,000 people in top jobs. It found these influential people were five times more likely to be privately educated than the average population.

The problem is that what they refer to as “top professions” are rather out of date. 44% of news columnists are privately educated? And what’s that generally like as an earner? There’s plenty of Guardian writers living in a room in a shared house. Cricketers? County cricketers earn between £30K and £80K per year.

Sure, you can find the outliers of people like Joe Root and Polly Toynbee who make a hefty 6 figures, but you can apply that to supermodels, video game creators and people who make YouTube videos.

But it might raise an eyebrow that today’s pop stars are more likely to have gone to private school than university vice-chancellors – 20% compared with 16%.

There’s quite sensible reasons for this. Being a pop star is now wealth-destructive. I suspect it always has been to some extent, but there is now a massive oversupply of recorded songs available. Anyone can download 60+ years of songs about love or heartbreak. What are you, in 2018 going to add that all those people haven’t done before?

If you want to make a living doing your own thing, it’s very hard to break through. It requires continuing to go at it, and the effect on many people is that they get tired of trying and go and get a proper job. The people most likely to be able to ride through until they succeed are the rich kids like Radiohead and Mumford and Sons because they’ve got backup. They’re burning through family money.

What no-one sees with all these jobs is the people who never made it. Most people who go into politics want to become cabinet ministers. But of all of those who apply effort, how many fail? 90% of MPs aren’t cabinet ministers. How many people who stand for parliament never become MPs, or spend years doing it? How many people never get selected to be an MP and only work for the council? How many people never even get selected for council, despite volunteering? People like Tony Blair could spend years just doing politics without much reward because his wife was covering all the bills.

I suspect if you analysed these in comparison to people who leave school and start working in sales, IT or as a CNC apprentice, many of these people would be no better off, on average.

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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Getting a place at Oxbridge is a pretty good proxy for being in the top 1% of intelligence (albeit possibly in a fairly narrow subject area) – certainly that was true in the days when what are now ‘top’ people were likely to have been at university. If we’re that concerned about public school ‘domination’ of certain sectors, simply bring back direct grant schools (academies are a weak substitute, and a valiant effort by the Govester, but don’t appear to be gaining much traction).

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

Getting a place at Oxbridge is a pretty good proxy for being in the top 1% of intelligence…

Exactly!

Unless you are going to complain that it is unfair that the incompetent and mindless do not have their fair share of the top jobs (and who is to say that they don’t?) then this could equally well be taken as a marker for the failure of the ‘comprehensive’ state system to deliver competent people.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Or exactly what you would expect in a meritocratic society after a while, if intelligence is highly heritable. After a reshuffle of a few generations, those earning a lot are the bright ones and they have bright children who earn a lot. In Utopia, where we all have perfect nurture and a perfect meritocracy, the only difference will be our genes – ironically in Utopia what will matter is who your parents are, just like the old anti-Utopia.

Q46
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Q46

The rich, privileged, advantaged, privately educated causal relationship with high academic achievement breaks down when applied to the royal children or any number of privately educated little rich kids.

If there is a causal link, there MUST be correlation. It takes only one example of non-correlation to falsify the proposed causality.

What we may become is fixed at the moment of conception, barring accidents in utero.

Tim Almond
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Tim Almond

This isn’t about private schooling, that’s a correlation with having well-off parents. If you put poor kids into private school, they won’t move into journalism or cricket in larger numbers, especially as they’re typically the brighter ones. They’ll be doing engineering, AI or biotech.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

And well-off parents is a proxy for having intelligent parents. That’s one of the reasons why Toby Youngs recent research fails, he adjusts for wealth when wealth is a proxy for what he is trying to measure – intelligence.

Tim Almond
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Tim Almond

Generally, yes. It’s interesting when parents who succeeded through non-academic routes send their kids to private schools (e.g. footballers).

Good schools make a difference, but it’s much less than people think.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Schools are probably like governments – they don’t do much good but they can do an awful lot of bad.

Tim Almond
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Tim Almond

No. Schools do a lot of good. But the best schools aren’t that much better than the worst. The variation of intake has a far larger effect than the school.

Like these stories about inner city schools that send a lot of kids to Oxford don’t tell you that their intake is above average at the start. They are still very good schools, but if they had below average kids, they wouldn’t make it.

Pat
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Pat

Once upon a time many people reached top jobs via. Grammar Schools. Then the Grammar Schools were mostly closed. Now it’s back to Private schools. Could it be that the form of education provided by Grammar/Private schools was most likely to favour success, and hence that the closure of Grammar Schools mainly benefited Private schools by removing their competitors? Mind, in my view the advantage from a Grammar school education , and I guess a Private one, is that fellow pupils are there to learn rather than cause trouble, and any exceptions can be readily offloaded. Thus less attention has… Read more »