Rapper Plan B recently hit out at schools and business for letting youngsters down. He believes there’s not enough support for kids that fail at education, leaving them to fend for themselves.
In some respects he was lucky. After being excluded from mainstream school he wound up in a pupil referral unit where he changed his attitude and turned his life around to get some qualifications.
Now he’s a successful performer and uses his profile to improve the chances of youngsters like him.
Plan B – real name Ben Drew – told Victoria Derbyshire on Radio 4 Live: “If you’re a school in the league tables, you don’t want to be taking on troublemakers. It makes the stats look bad at the end of the year.
“My head of year told me that at the time, he warned the school will look for any excuse to get rid of me. It made it really hard for me to want to behave myself because I was just another statistic.”
However, history is littered by stories of people, like Ben, who succeeded in spite of how they did in mainstream school, not because of it.
Simon Cowell is now one of TV’s most powerful forces, but he left school with just two O Levels. His first job was working in the mail room at EMI Records.
Russell Brand didn’t manage to get any A Levels and was expelled from the Italia Conti Academy for taking drugs and bunking off yet is now widely celebrated for his sharp mind and often quoted when he says important things.
Lord Alan Sugar famously dropped out of school because it wasn’t very interesting to start selling car aerials and electrical goods from a van. Now he’s hugely successful in business and on TV’s The Apprentice.
Sir Richard Branson left school with no qualifications at all having struggled due to dyslexia. He’s now gone about as far as it’s possible to go.
Sir Philip Green left school at 15 to start a shoe importing company, now he’s head of a global fashion empire and reportedly worth £3.3billion.
Sir Winston Churchill did badly at school, failing the entrance exam to the Royal Military College twice. He went on to become one of the most notable leaders in history.
Thomas Edison was described by a teacher as having an “addled” mind. Eventually he was home educated and grew up to invent the light bulb.
Albert Einstein was disruptive in class and couldn’t read until he was seven. He was expelled from the Rotterdam Academy for bringing a rabid skunk to school. His teachers said he’d never amount to much.