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Poorer pupils earn 20% less than those who went to private school, data from 38million people shows
- Adults who grew up in poverty earn less than those who attended private school
- Research has shown the average salary at age 30 for the FSM group was £18,847
- Meanwhile the average salary for the private school group at age 30 was £40,317
Adults who grew up in poverty earn a fifth less than those who attended private school, figures suggest.
Official data shows having an underprivileged background still holds people back in terms of earnings, even if they catch up in every other way.
Researchers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) looked at data from 38million people to compare the earnings of those from private schools with those who had received free school meals (FSM) – the official marker of poverty.
FSM are available to state school pupils from households with an income of £7,500 or less.
Adults who grew up in poverty earn less than those who attended private school, figures show
The average salary at age 30 for the FSM group was £18,847, while for the private school group it was £40,317.
Even with the same qualification level, educational attainment, work experience, ethnicity and region, the FSM group would on average earn 20 per cent less.
The ONS said this may be evidence of ‘direct discrimination’ in the workplace, where two equally qualified people are paid differently.
But it added: ‘Differences we cannot measure here may include an individual’s soft skills, such as confidence or networking, and their knowledge of the job market.’
Pictured: Chris McGovern, a former adviser to the Department for Education
It also acknowledged that the ‘unexplained gap’ may be accounted for by ‘occupation and industry’, which were not included due to a lack of data. It is well known that certain well-paid jobs are dominated privately educated people.
Alan Smithers, from Buckingham University, said: ‘Having grown up on a council housing estate myself, I don’t think [differences] are down to discrimination.
‘A job is more than qualifications, how well you do depends on confidence, demeanour and general all-round contribution.
‘Personal qualities like these are more easily developed in comfortable secure homes where parents also have the contacts to smooth your way.’
But Chris McGovern, former adviser to the Department for Education, said bosses see privately educated employees as having ‘social and non-academic skills’ that others do not.
‘This is tragic and an enormous waste of the nation’s talent and potential,’ he added.