Four successful people who don’t have GCSEs

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4 successful People who didn't get the GCSE results they expected

This year, a new GCSE grading system was introduced, changing from a letter system (A*-U) to a numerical system (grade 9 - grade 1, with 9 being the highest). This new grading system paired with reportedly harder papers has resulted in a 0.6% drop in overall GCSE pass grades this year.

It can be a tough time for those who don't get the results they expect; it's worth reminding them that grades aren't everything and it doesn't have to stop them achieving their dreams. Here are four examples of successful people who didn't rely solely on academic achievement to get to where they are today.

  1. Sir Richard Branson - Multi-Billionaire Entrepreneur and Investor.

    One of the most recognisable billionaires in the world, Richard Branson, dropped out of school at 16. Branson went on to start Virgin Records, selling it 19 years later for $1 million and expanded his brand further into tourism (Virgin Atlantic), radio (Virgin Radio) and even space-tourism (Virgin Galactic).

    He is so successful that in 1996 he started another record company (V2) which boasts artists such as Tom Jones, Bloc Party and Lethal Bizzle. Branson’s Virgin Group now holds more than 400 companies in more than 30 countries.

  2. David Karp - Founder of, one of the youngest social media sites, was founded by David Karp. Karp dropped out of school at the age of 14, long before GCSE age. As of January 2017, Tumblr had 550 million active users - that's more active users than Twitter and Pinterest put together.

    Forbes states that Karp is worth over $200 Million, and even thought was valued at $800 Million, he sold it to facebook for $1.1 Million in 2013.

  3. Simon Cowell - Music Executive, Television Producer and TV Personality

    One of the most visible men in the music industry, Simon Cowell, dropped out of school after achieving only two O Levels (the old-school equivalent of GCSEs) in English Language and Literature and Sociology.

    From this, he started a job in the mailroom of EMI and worked his way up from the bottom. His current net worth is said to be over $550 million, with his annual salary expected to be over $95 million.

  4. Lord Alan Sugar - Business Magnate and Media Personality

    From Electronics to Property, Lord Alan Sugar has been pretty successful - except for his GCSEs. With only one GCSE to his name, Lord Sugar's earnings from selling his consumer electronics business Amstrad, and the net worth of his property business Amshold are worth a whopping £1.05 Billion. Lord Sugar is currently the 95th richest person in the UK, with an estimated fortune of £1.15 billion.

Whether your students are destined to be website developers, comedians or leaders in space-tourism, not getting the GCSE results they had expected could have them following in the footsteps of some of the most successful people in the limelight.

If you think your students need some extra support, here are some resources they can use:

Don't forget that we have both permanent and supply vacancies across primary, secondary and SEN schools from September onwards. View our latest education jobs here.

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