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Principal's anger at Fiona's rant
8:25am Saturday 27th October 2012 in News
THE principal of the new £16m academy in Southampton has spoken of his anger over TV star Fiona Phillips’ rant at the school’s grand opening ceremony.
Principal Ian Golding has distanced himself from the celebrity presenter’s tirade, which happened when she was guest speaker at the ceremony at Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill school in Southampton, in front of a packed hall of guests.
During the awkward rant – which has drawn angry criticism from former pupils and governors – she slammed her old school, Millbrook School, saying it had crushed her aspirations and left her with just one O-level.
She said the school was “rampant with hormones and no discipline” in the 70s and even described then headmaster Fred Lowry as a man “who commanded no respect whatsoever”.
In a statement issued to the Daily Echo Mr Golding highlighted how even some of his staff were educated at Millbrook School – with positive experiences.
And he sympathised with Mr Lowry, now aged 85.
He said: “Ms Phillips’ comments were definitely her own personal experience but not those of everyone. In fact, some of my current and highly successful staff had extremely positive experiences at the school around the same time.
“In relation to Fred Lowry, the former head teacher, I empathise with him. He will have had many positive outcomes as a head which unfortunately can be easily overshadowed by comments like this.”
Mr Golding criticised the focus placed on the 51-year-old’s angry comments rather than what she said about young people taking responsibility for their development and making the most of opportunities that come their way.
But he was quick to distance the academy from its Millbrook School roots.
He said: “Contrary to reports that have appeared in national newspapers, Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill is not a rebrand of any predecessor schools. It is an Oasis Academy, it has a different ethos, a different outlook and different aspirations. I am disappointed that these few words have appeared to dominate what was a highly successful grand opening occasion. Our staff, volunteers and participating community organisations put a huge effort into the ceremony, as well as the massively successful Community Arts Festival, and I do not want a couple of minutes of words to overshadow their efforts and the success of the day.”
Today Fiona Phillips herself hit back at criticism in her column in a national newspaper.
She stood by her rant saying the education she received at Millbrook School was bad.
But she said she urged the students to "grasp every opportunity given to them by the talented, dedicated teachers they now have".
And even promised to go back to the Southampton school.
She said: "On Tuesday I went back to my old school in Southampton and, according to some newspapers, delivered a "rant" on how bad it had been.
"Well it was. That's why, under Tony Blair's academy system, set up to take over failing schools and turn them around, it was finally closed down in 2008 after decades of failure."
She added: "I wanted to be a doctor and was asked if I'd thought of hairdressing.
"These students are being told they can achieve anything they want to.
"I shall be visiting them to make sure they do!"