Privately-educated pupils are increasingly more likely to be accepted on to a prestigious Civil Service scheme than comprehensive students, Government figures have revealed.
Statistics released by the Cabinet Office show the numbers from a fee-paying background recruited to the Civil Service Fast Stream has increased since 2013 – despite the number of privately-educated applicants falling.
In the 2016 intake, 28.6% of those who made it on to the scheme went to a private school – despite just 6.7% of all pupils receiving a paid education.
In 2013, the successful applicants figure was 23.5%.
While the numbers of those with a private education taken on increased, the proportion of those who applied from a fee-paying background actually fell, from 20.5% in 2013 to 18.9% in 2016.
The figures came to light after a written question by Labour MP Dan Jarvis.
Labour MP Justin Madders, chair of a cross-parliamentary group on social mobility, said: “On her very first day in office, the Prime Minister promised to tackle the ‘burning injustices’ in Britain and to increase social mobility. But rather than her Government leading the way and being an exemplar of best practice, progress is going backwards on her watch.
“Just seven per cent of people attend a private school, but the proportion among new recruits to the Civil Service is four times higher. The Government needs to act now to address this bias if they are to avoid entrenching inequality for another generation.”
According to the Fast Stream and Early Talent Annual Report 2016, 32,450 people applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream programme in 2016. Of that, 6,135 came from a privately educated background.
Of the 1,245 recommended for appointment, 235 had been to fee paying schools.
Sir Peter Lampl, Founder of the Sutton Trust - which campaigns for increased social mobility - said: “Our research has shown that the alumni of private schools are over-represented at the very top of the civil service.
“So while it is encouraging that an increasing number of state school students are applying to the Fast Stream, it is concerning that their chances of being offered a job is not only less than their privately educated peers but is actually decreasing.
“The civil service has taken some steps to improve social mobility in recent years, including introducing name-blind recruitment. But these figures tell us they need to do much more to make sure that their recruitment process is fair to those from less privileged backgrounds.
“This is also an issue for schools and universities: they must do more to help their students improve the life skills so essential in gaining professional employment like this.”
In the foreword to the report, Civil Service head Sir Jeremy Heywood said: “I am confident that the actions we are taking will improve the diversity of the Civil Service now and in the years to come. That means a fairer, more meritocratic and more effective Civil Service and one the whole country can be proud of.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The Civil Service Fast Stream is one of the UK’s most sought-after graduate schemes. In 2017 we were the highest placed public sector organisation in the 2017 UK Social Mobility Employer Index and received a Highly Commended award at the UK Social Mobility Awards
“We are working hard to continually improve the diversity of our recruitment processes and our Summer Diversity Internship Programme is just one example giving young people from diverse backgrounds an insight into the huge range of opportunities a career in the Civil Service offers.”