Fiona Phillips accuses former school of being 'rampant with hormones' and turning her into a 'vile teenager' in extraordinary rant
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 25 October 2012
TV presenter Fiona Phillips hardly delivered the speech that was expected of her when she turned up at her old school to deliver the address to celebrate its reopening.
Instead of a few well-chosen words reminiscing about happy times, she delivered a scathing attack on its teachers and how they had turned her into a "vile teenager" who was arrested for shoplifting and also locked a teacher in a cupboard.
She said they had crushed her aspirations and suggested she become a hairdresser when she wanted to become a doctor.
Ms Phillips was attending the opening ceremony as her former school, Millbrook in Southampton was converted into one of Education Secretary Michael Gove's flagship academies and renamed Lord's Hill.
"It was a school rampant with hormones and no discipline, no aspiration and no encouragement." she said. She left the school with just one O level.
"I can remember being in classes throwing furniture around," she added. "We locked a fashion teacher in a cupboard and threw (another) over a bush and that was normal behaviour."
"My mother was in despair because I was so vile to her. They used to come and pick me up from the police station after I had been caught for shoplifting. I was in fights after school. I won't even go into what else went on."
She said the former headteacher, Fred Lowry, commanded "no respect whatsoever" and teachers did nothing to improve educational standards.
Not every former pupil shared her vision of the school. One said: "There was nothing wrong with the school nor the pupils who worked hard at their education." Mr Lowry, who is now 85 and retired, declined to comment on her outburst.
It has become something of a mea culpa week for public figures over their education.
On Tuesday Mr Gove himself issued an apology to one of his former teachers at Robert Gordon College in Aberdeen for his "cocksure" behaviour and for deliberately "ragging" the teacher, Daniel Montgomery.
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