Grammar schools are making a comeback in Theresa May’s Britain. The still-new prime minister has said that she wants to reintroduce an “element of selection” to the British education system. Banks in the City of London may well applaud.
As the chart below, from a June 2016 review of grammar schools for the House of Commons, shows the proportion of British pupils educated in selective grammar schools stands at around 5%, down from closer to 40% 70 years ago. Banks, however, still take a large proportion of grammar school-educated British students for some divisions.
Source: House of Commons Library
Our research suggests that London’s investment banks employ a disproportionate number of Britons from the grammar school system – and that this is particularly the case in some areas of their business. In a sample of 4,000 UK-educated investment banking employees, 10% are grammar-school educated. However, this rises to 20% in investment banking divisions (IBD).
Grammar school students’ appeal to investment banks is fairly transparent: if you attend one, you’re bright. You’re also likely to have excellent A level results, and banks like to hire people with 500 UCAS points or more. But why IBD in particular? This might be because grammar schools are known to disproportionately draw their students from the middle or upper middle classes, and client-facing IBD bankers need to have what last week’s report on social mobility and banking euphemistically referred to as, “polish.”