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Liz Truss says she’s the first PM to have attended comprehensive school

Former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Theresa May attended state schools.

05 October 2022

Liz Truss said she is the first prime minister to have attended comprehensive school in her Conservative Party conference speech.

During her speech at the party conference in Birmingham, Ms Truss also shared her memories of low growth while growing up in Leeds and Paisley, and continued to push her tax-cutting agenda.

To applause, Ms Truss told Conservative Party members: “I stand here today as the first prime minister of our country to have gone to a comprehensive school.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham
Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

Other prime ministers have attended state schools however. Labour former prime minister Mr Brown attended Kirkcaldy High School, now a comprehensive in Fife.

Mr Brown was reportedly taught in a special fast stream while at the school.

And Conservative former prime minister Mrs May attended a girls’ grammar school in Oxfordshire, which was reorganised into a comprehensive school during her education.

Questioned about the other leaders who went to state schools, Ms Truss’s press secretary said: “My understanding is this is quite complicated and it changed halfway through and comps weren’t actually called comps until the 60s or something like that.

“I’m not going to do a pop quiz on former PMs’ schooling.”

Ms Truss had added: “That taught me two things: one is that we have huge talent across our country and two that we’re not making enough of it.

“This is a great country. I’m so proud of who we are and what we stand for, but I know that we can do better and I know that we must do better and that’s why I entered politics.

“I want to live in a country where hard work’s rewarded, where women can walk home safely at night and where our children have a better future.”

She also told the party conference that she knew “what it’s like to live somewhere that isn’t feeling the benefits of economic growth”.

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Liz Truss with her husband Hugh O’Leary after delivering her keynote speech (Jacob King/PA)

Ms Truss said: “I grew up in Paisley and in Leeds in the Eighties and Nineties.

“I’ve seen the boarded-up shops. I’ve seen people left with no hope turning to drugs. I have seen families struggling to put food on the table.

“Low growth isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. Low growth means lower wages, fewer opportunities and less money to spend on the things that make life better.”

The Prime Minister claimed the Government “must level up the country in a Conservative way, ensuring everywhere and everyone can get on”.

Ms Truss also shared her experience of having her “potential dismissed by those who think they know better”.

She told the audience of Tory members: “I have fought to get where I am today.

“I have fought to get jobs, to get pay rises and to get on the housing ladder. I have juggled my career with raising two wonderful daughters.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham
Prime Minister Liz Truss delivering her keynote speech (Jacob King/PA)

Ms Truss added: “I remember as a young girl being presented on a plane with a ‘junior air hostess’ badge. Meanwhile, my brothers were given ‘junior pilot’ badges.

“It wasn’t the only time in my life that I have been treated differently for being female or for not fitting in.

“It made me angry and it made me determined. Determined to change things so it did not happen to others.”

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