Pupils from private schools dominate applications for top graduate schemes

Credit: This story was first seen on The Telegraph

The Telegraph reports that pupils from 10 private and grammar schools are 100 times more likely to apply for the most prestigious graduate schemes than their peers who were educated at the bottom 10% of schools, regardless of which universities they went on to, new analysis has revealed.

Jobs at the most sought after law firms, management consultancies, banks and FTSE 100 companies – which offer starting salaries to graduates of around £45,000 – are dominated by applications from an elite set of schools.

According to research carried out by Rare, a recruitment company which specialises in encouraging diversity in the workplace, 30% of sixth form students at the top ten schools had applied for the most prestigious graduate schemes.

This compares to just 0.3% of students at the bottom 10% of schools, meaning students educated at the ten schools were 100 times more likely to apply than those at the worst.

These include Westminster School, which charges £36,000 a year for boarders, and whose alumni include former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and the author A A Milne.

Sevenoaks School in Kent,  a co-educational boarding school with fees of £34,000 a year boasts the actor Daniel Day-Lewis as an alumnus, was also among the group. Each of the top 10 schools were independent apart from Queen Elizabeth’s School, a boys grammar school in north London.

The ten schools represent 0.3% of the school population yet produce three per cent of all applications to the top firms.

The data has become available for the first time after applications to 28 prestigious city graduate schemes – including Boston Consultancy Group, Baker McKenzie, Barclays, Deloitte and Clifford Chance – were analysed using a Contextual Recruitment System (CRS).

Raphael Mokades, the founder of Rare who developed the CRS, said: “The idea was borrowed from universities – it is pretty amazing that no one had thought to do it in graduate recruitment.”

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A number of Russell Group universities already gather data on applicants’ socio-economic background and give ‘contextual’ offers – which means a student from a disadvantaged household may be given a lower offer to their wealthier peer.

Mr Mokades, who worked as the diversity officer at Pearson before setting up Rare in 2005, said that firms would rather take on a “gritty, resilient outperformer” than someone who has been handed opportunities on a silver spoon.

“If you tell firms that Oxbridge and the most prestigious universities and medical schools have been doing this for years, the firms are far more likely to listen,” he said.

Mr Mokades said that firms which used the CRS hired on average 50% more applicants from disadvantaged than they have done in previous years.

“All these people have As coming out of their ears. Typically the firms would look at who has the best work experience or the best extra curricular activities on their CV,” he said.

“But the easiest way to get the best work experience if your parents have posh city jobs and it’s much easier to climb Kilimanjaro and play waterpolo if you have money. What we were trying to do was give them a scalable way of measuring and identifying disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said.

“The motivation in the city is that they want to find the best graduates. This is a good way of identifying talent that your might otherwise have missed,” he said.

The CRS, which was added onto the application forms of graduate recruiters hiring from September 2016 to the end of March 2017, enables them to gather extra data such as school the applicant went to, whether they were eligible for free school meals and whether they were a refugee or in care.

There is also a performance index, which looks at how well the applicant did in their A-levels compared to the others in their year group.