CHARLES GRAHAM - What was Cowell thinking?

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HE probably was cracking a joke when he suggested that youngsters shouldn’t bother with school and “get lucky” with careers instead.

But it’s not entirely surprising that Simon Cowell has got himself in hot water for saying so.

After all, it’s shows like his X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent which have more to stoke up talentless folk’s delusions of grandeur than anything else.

Large swathes of youngsters now crave “celebrity” without having any discernible gifts, not realising that getting to the top (or anywhere much, for that matter) invariably involves colossal amounts of hard work and that those who do become rich and famous constitute about 0.001 per cent of the population.

No wonder Education Secretary Michael Gove went off on one, accusing the pop guru of “irresponsibility.”

I do hear people quite a lot say “school never did anything for me” and “qualifications aren’t everything.”

That’s as may be, but it isn’t advisable to plant seeds like that in young people’s minds.

It is in all children’s interests to be encouraged to make the most of our free education system.

Who’s to say at an early stage that if they are not particularly good at maths or English that they must therefore be better at something they haven’t tried yet? Don’t just jack it in and hope for the best.

For all they know maths and English might be their strongest suits and they ought to make the best of them.

It is terrible to leave school and reflect on it as a complete waste of time: not because it had all been over their heads but because they had dismissed it as pointless without giving it a proper try.

There’s no harm in having a go at becoming a pop star and some people do get very lucky. But given the microscopically-small odds of succeeding, it’s probably best to have a plan B.