Those who go to private school will earn an average of £472,143 more by the age of 65. Photo: Getty
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£472,143: the value of a private education

Those who go to private school will earn an average of £472,143 more than state-educated pupils by the age of 65.

Private education: what a con. A new report from the Social Market Foundation finds that private education is worth an average of £57,653 to a person’s income later in life. Given that average annual fee for private day schools is £12,582, the temptation is to ask: why bother going private?

But hang on. The figure of £57,653 only takes into account the difference in earnings between private and state school pupils (discounting family background and social circumstances) between the ages of 26 and 42. For two people working to the age of 65, the benefit of private education would be worth £140,529 at a conservative estimate; and that’s before other benefits – higher pension plans; and the benefits of better paying jobs that they can they pass onto their children – are taken into account. That remains a good rate of return on the £85,000 it costs to send a child to an independent day school for seven years.

Most of the attention on the SMF’s report has focused on the value, or otherwise, of private education. But a more significant finding has been ignored.

In total, between the ages of 26 and 42, someone who attended an independent school will earn £193,700 more than someone who attended a state school. Strip away the benefits attributed to private education, and that still amounts to £136,047. Assume that the average benefits will continue to 65 (which amounts to a conservative estimate, as pay differentials increase later in life) and there is a £331,614 “dividend” for those attending private school that is attributable to family background and social circumstance.

Add it to the direct benefits of going to independent school, and those who go to private school will earn an average of £472,143 more than the state educated by the age of 65. This is what the New Statesman called the 7 per cent problem earlier this year.

Blaming it all on private schools is expedient, of course. But almost two-thirds of the earnings gap is down to wider advantages not related to what school you went to – wider social capital that is far more entrenched. The relationship between what parents and children earn is higher in Britain than anywhere else in the OECD. The reasons for this lack of social mobility go far deeper than where you went to school.

Tim Wigmore is a contributing writer to the New Statesman and the author of Second XI: Cricket In Its Outposts.

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Jess Phillips's Diary: Lazy attacks on “lazy MPs”, and how to tackle the trolls

The Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley takes us through her week.

As parliament kicked us out for the conference recess season on 14 September, several tabloids run the predictable story: “MPs go back on holiday today only NINE days after returning to parliament from a six-week summer break.” I imagine the journalist who churns it out hates doing the same tired “all MPs are lazy baddies” shtick as much as we hate having to rebut the nonsense idea that we are on holiday when we are working full-time in our constituencies.

Legislation is on holiday, not legislators. I have still yet to find an MP who thinks it reasonable that parliament shuts for three weeks for conference season. Why can we not have these conferences at the weekend? Or during the summer recess? Hell, why do we have to have them so regularly at all?

Is the nation screaming out for the politically minded to spend hundreds of pounds sleeping on the floor of an overcrowded Airbnb in a seaside town after a heavy night on warm wine and small food? I’ll wager that you cannot find me a person on the Clapham omnibus – or frankly any omnibus, whatever an omnibus even is – who thinks we should have a week off making laws so that the Lib Dems can do karaoke.

Her Maj

As well as time off for conference, it seems that the Tories will be scurrying home early every Wednesday as well. They appear to be on strike from voting on any opposition day motions as their governing partners, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, play fast and loose with their allegiances. (The DUP backed a Labour motion against raising tuition fees, which the government says is non-binding.)

I and other Labour MPs sat in parliament and watched ministerial cars speed off on 13 September as the whips told the great and good to go home. Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition is a pretty important part of our democracy. If I were Her Maj I might be more than a little peeved that Mrs May cannot be arsed to turn up to fight for what she believes in, whatever that is. Presumably whatever Boris Johnson and his gang say it is this week.

Leave the kids alone

I spent the weekend at a local Labour Party fundraiser, at my surgery, and handing out certificates to hundreds of young people graduating from the National Citizen Service. I sat in front of a lively, wildly diverse group of young people and thought we should hand over managing geopolitics to them for a while. Even the naughty kid at the back (whom I had to scold) gave me more faith than what I see on the news.

Family life

At a debate about the abuse of MPs, the traditional Tory colonel Bob Stewart told the house that his son had been targeted and isolated by his schoolteacher because his father was a Conservative MP.

Now, I’ve had my run-in ins with the colonel in the past, but I was horrified by this – one of my sons is the same age as his. As a parent and an MP I dread the idea that my choices will cause my sons’ grief. I’ve got enough guilt about leaving them half the week without their being targeted and bullied. I once found my son and his mates watching videos about me on YouTube that had been made by men’s rights activists. The vicious content was unsettling enough, but the thought of his teacher joining in the hate is harrowing (and, I’m pleased to say, completely unthinkable at his school). Our families are conscripts to this life – some are conscientious objectors.

Troll detection

So, should we ban internet trolls who abuse MPs online from voting? This is the suggestion floated by the Electoral Commission. I can see the argument for trying to make people treat the electoral system with respect. I also think we have got to have a hard line and a punishment. I’m just not sure how we will decide what is abuse. People say sexist stuff to me all the time. Would a negative comment about my appearance count, or are we talking rape and death threats? (What a time to be alive, when I can give a traffic light system to my sexist online abuse.) To some, the idea of having your vote taken away would only provoke a shrug; but to me it seems too much.

Climb every mountain

I have nearly finished More in Common by my friend Brendan Cox. It is about his late wife, my friend Jo, and is brilliant, but I dip in and out because I want it to last. Reading it makes me feel so tired: maybe because I read it in bed, but also because Jo’s energy and adventures seem exhausting. I like mountains on a screen saver, but I wouldn’t climb one, especially not with a tropical disease or a baby in my belly.

I’m also exhausted because of the ridiculous late nights we seem to be adopting in parliament. Jo’s distaste for the silly hours is covered in the book. She couldn’t understand why we couldn’t start earlier than 11.30am and finish in time for people to see their kids. As I put down the story of her life (and, my god, what a life) I’ll gladly trek for her to the seemingly impassable peak of reforming the voting hours in parliament. 

This article first appeared in the 21 September 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The revenge of the left