Teachers and education specialists were shaking their heads over Simon Cowell as he made “stupid and irresponsible” remarks about not needing to work hard at school. The X Factor multimillionaire said all you needed was a bit of luck. Education Secretary, Michael Gove, gives Cowell a D minus on his report card for this disincentive to millions of youngsters to strive at school.
Simon Cowell, who was sent to a private fee-paying school, Dover College, but dropped out at 16; said on American radio station z100 that he “didn’t work hard” but the secret is “to be useless at school and then get lucky.”
Gove’s reply to this was that “only a tiny fraction of people get lucky. For everybody else, it’s all about hard work and that starts with hard work at school.”
Joining in the chorus of disapproval was Chris Skidmore, MP who said both Simon Cowell and his X Factor show sent the wrong message that it is possible to “get rich quick” with the minimum of effort, all on the back of “a couple of hours worth of performance.” Skidmore lamented the fact that millions of young people will condemn themselves to lives on low incomes and failed aspirations by not taking proper advantage of their educations.
Cowell is not the only maverick entrepreneur to have left school with no qualifications. Another famous Brit, Sir Richard Branson, is well-known for having flunked at school but gone on to do OK for himself. Getting bad reports and behaving irresponsibly are not necessarily bars to getting on in life.
Simon Cowell is also in the news today for just having signed a new £150m X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) deal for three more years in the UK. Seems like Simon’s luck is really in. The ratings have been as saggy as a pre-Botoxed brow, but Simon’s shows will remain on screens until 2016. He is said to be thrilled, and no doubt deserving of an A plus. The “We don’t need no education” rebel could be said to be putting his money where his mouth is.
The 54-year-old father-to-be is also notorious of late for his sexual shenanigans, and now that his latest girlfriend has finalised her divorce, he is all set for a loved-up experience of first time parenthood with Lauren Silverman.
In a mealy-mouthed statement, the Syco Boss’s spokesman said the school comments were “clearly a joke” and had been taken “completely out of context.” Educationalists certainly did not find it funny.
Simon Cowell, much like a contestant on one of his shows, was maybe reaching out for the sympathy vote, when he also spoke of “setbacks” he had suffered along his path to success. The most memorable of these was a terrible time when he was forced to “move back in with his parents.” As hardships go, this one does not sound so very dreadful, particularly parents who are well-heeled enough to send him to private school.
Mr Gove was incensed as he said “Celebrities like Mr Cowell should encourage education, not rubbish it.” It will be interesting to see how young Baby Silverman-Cowell eventually fares in the seats of learning, and whether his happy-go-lucky Dad will encourage him or her to fail at school.
As Simon Cowell has already attested that he will leave his fortune to charity, his child may need more than an average dose of luck to prevail. The Cowell riches, an estimated £240m, will go to a charity associated with either “kids or dogs.” He said he did not believe in passing money on from one generation to the next.
Simon Cowell gets a bad report from the government today for his irresponsible remarks, but just as when he was a naughty schoolboy, he probably couldn’t care less. He has nothing to prove to anyone, least of all his old teachers at Dover College. He is laughing, as they say, all the way to the bank.
By Kate Henderson