The new Department for Education

Inspired by an infographic showing that all of the current education ministers went to private schools, I have just spent 10 mins on Wikipedia investigating the Higher Education experiences of the current department for education:

  • Nicky Morgan is 41, so didn’t pay uni fees for her Jurisprudence degree from Oxford.
  • Nick Boles is 48, so didn’t pay uni fees for his PPE degree from Oxford.
  • Nick Gibb is 53, so didn’t pay uni fees for his Law degree from Durham.
  • Lord Nash is 65, so didn’t pay uni fees for his Law degree from Oxford.
  • David Laws is 48, so didn’t pay uni fees for his Economics degree from Cambridge.
  • Sam Gyimah is 37, so may have paid some tuition fees for his PPE degree from Oxford (depending on whether he took a year out or not… 1k/year fees came in in 1998 so he may just have had to pay for a year or so)
  • Edward Timpson is 40, so didn’t pay uni fees for this Law degree from Durham.

So, no science in the department at all. No arts in the department, either – all Law, Jurisprudence, PPE, Economics…


  1. They’re politicians, so you wouldn’t expect them to have done arts or sciences. Law, PPE or Economics is the way to go if you want to be an MP these days.

  2. Author

    @Fenny That may be true, but it doesn’t make it right- I think it’d be great if politicians had at least some experience or knowledge of something outside of politics.

  3. Dominic Cummings, until recently an adviser to Gove, wrote this week about the problem of ministers and officials not having any training in how to understand the statistics on which they make decisions:

    It’s long; if you aren’t in the mood for reading an essay, skip to the conclusion, which includes:

    “In England, less than 10 percent per year leave school with formal training in basics such as ‘normal distributions’ and conditional probability. Less than one percent are well educated in the basics of how the ‘unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’ provides the language of nature and a foundation for our scientific civilisation. Only a small subset of that <1% then study trans-disciplinary issues concerning complex systems. This number has approximately zero overlap with powerful decision-makers.

    Generally, they are badly (or narrowly) educated and trained. Even elite universities offer courses such as PPE that are thought to prepare future political decision-makers but are clearly inadequate and in some ways damaging, giving people like Cameron and Balls false confidence in 1) the value of their acquired bluffing skills and 2) the scientific basis of modern economics’ forecasts. … The skills, and approach to problems, of our best mathematicians, scientists, and entrepreneurs are almost totally shut out of vital decisions.

    These issues are connected to the failure of political elites to get big decisions right since the 1860s.”

  4. Oh, I know it doesn’t make it right, but they don’t think “I want to be a politician, I’ll do a Physics degree”. It’s totally and utterly wrong that they want to be career politicians rather than experience life and then decide to go into politics to change the things they can see need changing.

  5. @Smylers – do they give any comparable figures for Scottish school leavers? Given that so many of our politicians, including Blair, Brown and Gove were educated in Scotland, we really need to know if they have any better understanding.

  6. @Fenny: I suspect not, because education is a devolved matter in Scotland, so Gove (and there for Cummings) wouldn’t’ve had much to do with it.

  7. I know, I just wondered if the Scottish education system is still so much better than the English, as they have always maintained. It’s not devolved as such, it’s always been completely separate, like the legal system.

  8. I really want to thank you for sharing this amazing post. may you please help me with the quantity of modules which must be covered for a diploma in mechanical engineering.

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