Simon Cowell helps Topshop boss Sir Philip Green and Highgate School launch work experience scheme

The sound of squealing pupils filled Highgate School as music mogul Simon Cowell helped to launch a prestigious work experience scheme for teenagers at schools in Camden, Haringey and Barnet.

The talent show judge publicly backed the programme at its launch yesterday, where he was joined by his friend, Topshop boss Sir Philip Green, and Highgate headteacher Adam Pettitt.

It is the second year the scheme run by Highgate School and Sir Philip’s Arcadia group will offer top-level retail experience at Arcadia to sixth-formers at 35 schools across London to help them get a foot on the career ladder.

To excited cheers from pupils, Mr Cowell, 55, announced he will also offer work experience at his entertainment company Syco to a lucky few teenagers.

He told the Ham&High after the launch: “This was a bit of a spur of the moment thing for me.

“I like doing these kind of things, and off the back of it, we’ll take on pupils, some from this school and some from other schools.”

Last year, then-education secretary Michael Gove pledged his support to the programme.

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Pupils on The Arcadia Experience work scheme first attend a series of masterclasses at Highgate School this and next month run by senior leaders at Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Burton and Wallis.

Sixth-formers then attend a CV and interview skills workshop in April at schools taking part in the programme.

Pupils can then apply for two weeks of sought-after work experience at Arcadia’s head office in a department of their choice.

To be selected, they will have to go through a competitive recruitment process and will undergo a video interview.

The launch night saw Mr Pettitt turn talk show host as he interviewed Mr Cowell on his experiences at school and how he climbed through the ranks of the music industry, from postbag sifter to world-famous hitmaker.

On the advice he would offer young people, Mr Cowell told the Ham&High: “Decide what you want to do, but make a difference, and just enjoy the ride.”

The scheme is on offer to pupils within the Highgate School-led Chrysalis Partnership, a group of schools including Parliament Hill, William Ellis, Henrietta Barnett, La Sainte Union, Haverstock, Fortismere as well as Highgate Wood.