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On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: Simon Cowell

Education's pantomime villain took to the stage a few weeks early this year when Simon Cowell, the multimillionaire media mogul, gave some less than wise words of advice about getting ahead in life.

Cowell, famed for his bluntness as a judge on his karaoke franchise, The X Factor, told a US radio station that despite his current success, he barely lifted a finger while in education.

"I didn't work hard when I was at school," the flat-topped talent show creator said. "I left at 16 and I didn't have any qualifications. I was useless. The secret is to be useless at school and then get lucky."

Judging by his estimated #163;200 million wealth, Cowell did indeed "get lucky". But his comments led to some stinging criticism, not least from England's education secretary Michael Gove, who branded the mogul "irresponsible and stupid".

"Teachers strive every day to ensure that children understand the importance of learning, hard work and discipline. Simon Cowell's comments undermine their efforts," Mr Gove said. "The truth is 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. Celebrities like Mr Cowell should encourage education, not rubbish it."

So, for foot-in-mouth statements about education, it is off to the naughty step with you, Cowell. And take your enormous piles of cash with you.

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