Education committee members who went to private school

At least three of the 11 members of the new education select committee attended fee-paying schools, broadly reflecting the proportion of privately educated MPs among the 2015 intake.

Of the nine MPs whose schooling details are known, three – just over a quarter of the committee – went to an independent school.

According to a research brief by think tank the Sutton Trust, 32 per cent of UK-educated MPs in the May 2015 intake were educated privately, compared with just 7 per cent of people across England and Wales.

Two members of the education select committee are University of Cambridge graduates, a low number given the 26 per cent of the 2015 parliamentary intake who went to Oxbridge.

Committee chair Neil Carmichael (Con, Stroud) attended a state primary school before moving to St Peter’s School (pictured), a co-educational independent boarding and day school in York. Founded by St Paulinus of York in 627, it is the third oldest school in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world.

Pupils wear gowns during public and school events, and notable former pupils include two conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes and John Wright.

Former barrister Lucy Frazer (Con, South East Cambridgeshire) attended the independent, selective and costly Leeds Girls’ High School, which merged with Leeds Grammar School in 2005 to form The Grammar School at Leeds. Alumni include former BBC governor Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones and the principal of Oxford’s Somerville College, Catherine Hughes.

Ms Frazer attended Newnham College at the University of Cambridge, where she was made president of the Cambridge Union. She became a QC in 2013.

Fellow lawyer and committee member Suella Fernandes (Con, Fareham) read law at Cambridge and the Sorbonne, after attending the Heathfield School, an independent girls’ school in Pinner, Harrow.

Formative school experiences can shape MPs’ political views.

Former marketing executive and new MP Michelle Donelan (Con, Chippenham) told the Wiltshire Times that seeing her father’s home improvement business “crumble under Labour” made her politically active as a teenager. While growing up she had a secondhand school uniform and was unable to go on school trips.

Ms Donelan was state educated at The County High School in Leftwich, Cheshire, before reading history and politics at the University of York.

Caroline Nokes (Con, Romsey and Southampton North), who stood unsuccessfully for chair against Mr Carmichael, attended The Romsey School, a comprehensive in Hampshire, before studying at Peter Symonds College in Winchester, one of the largest sixth-form colleges in Britain.

New Labour MP Kate Osamor (Edmonton) also attended her local comprehensive before going on to further education study at Hackney Community College. She told Schools Week she stood for a position on the committee “because I know that getting the best education is particularly important for young people in areas like Edmonton”.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “This is a diverse education committee with a good breadth of experience in state schools. We can expect this to help well-informed decision-making about the education system and its real challenges and needs.”

List of secondary schools attended by members


Neil Carmichael

St Peter’s School, York

Suella Fernandes

Heathfield School, Pinner

Lucy Frazer

Leeds Girls’ High School


Ian Austin

The Dudley School (now Castle High School)

Michelle Donelan

The County High School, Leftwich

Kate Hollern

High School Dumbarton

Ian Mearns

St Mary’s RC Technical College, Newcastle upon Tyne

Caroline Nokes

The Romsey School

Peter Symonds College, Winchester

Kate Osamor

Creighton Comprehensive School, London

Hackney Community College

NB: The schools attended by Lucy Allan and Marion Fellows are not known

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