Simon Cowell would encourage son Eric to leave school at 16 if he wanted to

Music mogul says children have 'way too much pressure on them to overachieve'

Olivia Blair
Thursday 03 November 2016 16:20
Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell says he would encourage his son to leave school at 16 if that is what he wanted to do.

The X factor creator and judge left at 16 and said he would support a decision by his only child with his partner Lauren Silverman, Eric, to do the same if he wanted to.

“Leave at 16 if you want to work, 100 per cent I would encourage him,” Cowell told BBC Radio 2. “I don’t understand why you would want to torture someone to be somewhere they don’t want to be but actually want to go out into the real world and make a living.

“Everyone has different views on this and I have been criticised for saying this in the past but I really feel bad for people who are like myself who were told if you don’t achieve this by the age of 16, 18, 21 your life is going to be a failure. I just don’t agree with that and I would just say to Eric: ‘This is what it is, you’ve got to do it, learn whatever you possibly can, do as you’re told and then if you want to leave at 16 you can come and work with me'.”

Children have been required to stay in some sort of full-time education, be it undertaking A-Levels or other qualifications, starting an apprenticeship or spending more than 20 hours volunteering or working whilst in part-time education, since 2013. Prior to this, children could leave school at 16 with no further plans.

But if two-year-old Eric does leave school at 16 he will be in a position incomparable to those of most 16-year-olds thanks to the life of privilege he was born into. As Cowell said, he would be guaranteed a job at his record label SyCo who represent the likes of One Direction, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony.


After Cowell left school, he went to college for a year before entering the entertainment business as a runner. His father, who was an executive at EMI music, later got him a job at the post room.

“I really realised when I was a young kid that I wasn’t particularly academic,” the 57-year-old said. “I found the whole process tedious, boring, monotonous, too many rules and I’d made up my mind then when I was 16: I’m out.”

Cowell also criticised the pressures placed on children and the expectation that they need to have a life plan sorted by the time they reach adulthood.

“I see kids today, way too much pressure on them to overachieve. You don’t know what you’re going to achieve, I believe, unless you’re really really smart, until you’re older and you get experience. But everyone is taught at the moment that you’ve got to achieve everything immediately or they’re going to be a failure. I absolutely disagree with that […] I would never put Eric under that pressure."

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