The latest research from the Sutton Trust confirms the value of an independent education

In his blog 24.02.16, HMC Chair Elect Mike Buchanan, headmaster of leading independent Ashford School comments on the latest Sutton Trust research confirming the value of an independent education.

If ever you needed reassurance that the investment you are making in your child’s education is worthwhile, the latest research from the independent think tank The Sutton Trust has provided further confirmation this week.

You may have seen the headlines “How private school education could clinch you a BAFTA or BRIT award”. The Leading People report shows the extent of the contribution those educated at independent schools make across the UK.

Independently educated people make a huge and disproportionate contribution to the UK economy and society given that around 7% of children attend private schools. Sixty-one percent of top doctors are educated independently, as are nearly half of senior civil servants and journalists. In the military and law, the proportion rises to nearly three quarters while for British Oscar winners the figure is 67% and at the BAFTAs it’s 42%. The only area of the arts where independently educated people do not dominate is at the BRIT awards with 20%. Nearly two thirds of British Nobel prize winners were privately educated and as are over one third of FTSE 100 CEOs who are British.

The report goes on to suggest some of the reasons why young people educated at independent schools are so successful in their careers. These include higher than average academic grades, social skills and networks that support career progression and the value that is increasingly attached by recruiters to extracurricular accomplishments at school and university. It also suggests that there is an unconscious bias amongst those who recruit to favour those of a similar background.

From my perspective, young people educated at schools such as Ashford School are successful in later life precisely because we give emphasis and time to developing key personal characteristics, and significant curriculum time to areas such as the arts and sport. In this way, our students are developing and practising the skills that they will use in later life as actors, sports men and sports women, lawyers, doctors, journalists and in a whole range of other spheres.

Politicians and the media try to make out that independent schools are the problem when it comes to social mobility in the UK. You will not be surprised to hear that I believe schools such as Ashford School are important part of the solution and an example of how these key, life enhancing skills should be developed in all schools.

Read more on Mike's blog.