93% of Education Secretaries attended private or grammar schools. Only two did not.
|2||Richard Law||Shrewsbury School|
|3||Ellen Wilkinson||Ardwick school|
|4||George Tomlinson||Rishton Wesleyan School|
|5||Florence Horsbrugh||Lansdown House|
|6||Geoffrey Lloyd||Harrow School|
|10||Michael Stewart||Christ’s Hospital|
|11||Anthony Crosland||Highgate School|
|12||Patrick Gordon Walker||Wellington|
|13||Edward Short||College of the Venerable Bede|
|14||Margaret Thatcher||Kevesten & Grantham Girls’ School|
|15||Reg Prentice||Whitgift School|
|16||Fred Mulley||Warwick School|
|17||Shirley Williams||St Paul’s Girl School|
|18||Mark Carlisle||Abingdon School|
|19||Keith Joseph||Harrow School|
|20||Kenneth Baker||Hampton Grammar|
|21||John MacGregor||Merchiston Castle School|
|22||Kenneth Clarke||Nottingham High School|
|23||John Patten||Wimbledon College|
|24||Gillian Shephard||North Walsham Girls School|
|25||David Blunkett||Royal National College for the Blind|
|26||Estelle Morris||Whalley Range Grammar|
|27||Charles Clarke||Highgate School|
|28||Ruth Kelly||Sutton High School|
|29||Alan Johnson||Sloane Grammar School|
|30||Edward Balls||Nottingham High School|
|31||Michael Gove||Robert Gordon’s College|
The first was brought to my attention by @oldandrewuk who pointed out that David Blunkett bucked the trend. Denied the opportunity to sit the test for grammar school, Blunkett was sent to the residential Royal National College for the Blind. Once there his teacher insisted blind children did not need qualifications and instead taught him to type.
The second escaped my radar because he barely went to school at all. Only when reading his biography did I learn that George Tomlinson became a cotton mill ‘half-timer’ when he was aged 12. By 13, he worked there full-time.
Does it matter?
One can argue that the place where a Minister is schooled doesn’t really matter. Yet when George Tomlinson took up post The Spectator did not see it that way. Their editorial said:
“To put the Ministry of Education, concerned as it is with the whole range of secondary schools, grammar, modern and technical, as well as the primary schools, in the hands of a man who left a primary school at the age of 12 and has had no other formal education at all – that, it must be said again, is a surprising proceeding which raises disturbing questions as to what the conception of education in the present Government’s view is.”
Funny how a similar furore was never kicked up about the very many Ministers from independent schools who had not experienced a single one of these school types.