12 people who prove you don't need A-levels or university to be successful

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Thursday 13 August 2015 10:00

It's A-level results day, which means quite a lot of nail-biting for teenagers all over the country.

If you didn't achieve the results you were hoping for, don't worry. University is three times more expensive than it was in 2010, and yet more students are planning on starting at uni in September than ever before, which means a more crowded graduate jobs market when they leave.

University is just one of many routes to success in life - if you don't believe us, ask these guys, who either didn't get great A-level results or left school without any at all:

1. Richard Branson

On his last day of school, Richard Branson was told by his headteacher that he'd either end up in prison or become a millionaire. He started his first business at the age of 16 and today is worth £3.1billion, according to Forbes.

2. John Major

The Conservative Prime Minister between 1992-1997 left school at 16 with just three O-levels (GCSEs).

3.Sabirul Islam

The 25-year-old from Tower Hamlets started his own calendar making business at 14 and by the age of 16 had been hired by investment bank Merill Lynch. Since then he's written motivational books and launched a global campaign to inspire young people to follow their entrepreneurial dreams.

4. Zoella

The fashion and beauty vlogger was working as an interior design apprentice when her blog and website took off.

5. Heston Blumenthal

The three-starred Michelin chef left school at 18 and began an apprenticeship with Raymond Blanc but left the restaurant after a week.

6. Alan Johnson

Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson was orphaned at the age of 12 and left school at 15. He stacked shelves in Tesco, then became a postman before becoming politically active through union work.

7. Jamal Edwards

Jamal Edwards started filming himself rapping freestyle in his bedroom and uploading the videos to YouTube and the idea grew into a music TV production company which has made the 25-year-old £8million.

8. Sophie Turner

The Game of Thrones actress is just 19 - she had a tutor on set who helped her achieve her GCSEs but has focused on her acting career since then.

9. Julie Birchill

Columnist and author Julie Birchill started her A-levels but dropped out after a few weeks to write about the emerging punk movement for NME.

10. Michael Caine

The film legend left school at 16 and did his national service in the Korean War before he came home and started doing walk-on parts at a small theatre at the age of 20.

11. Alan Sugar

Lord Sugar left school at 16 and started selling car aerials out of a van he'd bought with his life savings of £50. Now, he's worth more than £1billion.

12. Tom Daley

The Olympic diver managed to fit in his A-levels around sporting commitments, but has always focused on his career first.

More: A-level results not what you hoped for? Here's an 8 step guide to Clearing