With millions of young people all over the country set to receive their GCSE results, we thought we’d put together a list of successful individuals who have gone on to thrive in life despite not getting the exam results they wanted.

At Street League we believe that just because an individual didn’t succeed academically, doesn’t mean they can’t flourish in life. Our unique sports for employability programme enables a young person to believe that, set goals and achieve them.

Here’s a list of people who haven’t needed GCSEs to get to the position they are in. They are Made Outside the Classroom

Sir Richard Branson

King of the Virgin Group empire, Richard Branson is the perfect example of someone who has gone against the grain and become extremely successful despite the barriers he faced along the way.

Branson, who has severe dyslexia and has no official qualifications, is regarded as a role model for people with learning difficulties as he continues to oversee the remarkable progress of his 400 companies, all part of the Virgin Group.

In July 2015, Forbes listed Branson’s estimated net worth at $5.2 billion, with the Londoner knighted in March 2000 for his “services to entrepreneurship”.

Dereece – Street League London


After being referred by the Stockwell Job Centre to Street League’s football Academy, Dereece has turned a corner.

Due to his love of the game and a strong desire to find work, it seemed like the perfect match for Dereece and that proved to be the case.

After being unemployed since leaving school and with only one GCSE in English to his name, Dereece was feeling depressed, out of ideas and felt like he needed some help in assessing his options moving forward.

Street League’s dedicated team of staff arranged for him to go on a 100 hour work placement with employer partners, TM Lewin. After impressing, Dereece was offered a full-time role.

Despite not succeeding in education, Dereece has gone on to succeed outside of it.

Terroll Lewis

Teroll Lewis, a former gang member who has served time in prison, is a popular personality among youth audiences after establishing an online presence via his YouTube channels.

With gang life being the main focus of his attention, education fell well down the pecking order for YouTuber Lewis. Despite this, he is now a shining light in his local community of Brixton, founding Block Workout – a gym, community centre and a philosophy based in Brixton but reaching far out to housing estates across the county and even the world.

Hoping to tempt young people away from the streets, gang life and ultimately prison, Block Workout is an alternative for local youths, with thousands of people attending the gym to not only get fit, but also receive life coaching and learn from an inspirational man who’s been involved with gangs and been to prison, but has now come out the other side.

Lord Alan Sugar

Lord Alan Sugar, perhaps best known for his leading role on the BBC show ‘The Apprentice’, has risen to huge wealth and power despite only ever having one GCSE.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Lord Sugar’s fortune is worth an estimated £1.15bn - a humongous turnaround from his early days of selling car aerials and electrical goods out of a van he bought for £50 at the age of 16 after leaving school.

Who needs school grades to achieve their dreams? The former owner of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club certainly didn’t.

Jay – Street League Glasgow

After leaving school early due to behavioural issues and, as a result, having very few qualifications and feeling low on motivation and confidence, Jay saw no opportunities for himself when it came to employment.

After discovering Street League and signing up to the Academy programme, Jay initially strayed off due to a few issues but with persistence, an improved attitude and a desire to get moving into employment, Jay got back involved and was keen to explore his opportunities with the help of Street League staff.

After showing great promise on the programme and rediscovering his motivation, Jay established that he liked working in a team, particularly when it came to practical tasks.

With that in mind, Jay was offered a four week work placement with George Boyd’s Plumbers Merchants where he proved himself to be a valued member of staff, prompting them to create a role for him so he could join them on a permanent basis.

What a turnaround!

Street League provide an award-winning sport and education programme to help unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds get into work and training. We also work with national and local employers to provide work placement and apprenticeship opportunities. If you’re keen to find out more about Street League sign-up here