17 August 2017
I joke that I am rolled out by the media every year for my incredible A-level results. I got extraordinary results – quite rare – I got four U grades.
My parents, as I am sure you can imagine, were a cross between furious and heartbroken. They were also highly embarrassed, which was understandable really. They’re so proud of us all and they had been telling everyone how well I was doing, then I came home with those results!
In all honesty, you do feel like a bit of an outcast with such bad grades. That being said, what is really important to remember is that this is the beginning not the end. It’s the beginning of a new chapter. Just because you’ve not done well in school really doesn’t mean you’re not going to do well in life. In fact, quite often people who don’t do well in school do very, very well in life. They’re given extra motivation to go into the world and prove their point.
Remember, if you’ve failed your exams it is not the end of the world.
You might have just saved yourself £50,000. When you think about it, university is incredibly expensive. In my experience some of the students that are coming through our apprenticeship programme have come out with amazing qualifications, and they have been paid for it. They are on average being given £50,000 instead of the cost of £50,000 at uni over three years! That means there could be a gap of £100,000 when you really think about it. If you’re still able to go and get a great job then why the wait?
On the topic of apprenticeships, vocational training is very important these days. I would go so far as to say that on-the-job training is probably the best way that you can learn.
The key is choosing a vocation that you love.
You’ve probably not done well at school because you’ve not been doing something that you are particularly passionate about. If you find something that you’re really passionate about you will succeed – there are no two ways about it.
That’s why I don’t look for skills; I look for the type of person you are and what drives you. What are your traits – the traits that have been in you since you were probably six or seven years old. I look for how dynamic, passionate or supportive you are, not what your CV says.
It’s interesting because often young people who have failed exams have a much stronger level of resilience. I am a great believer that if you are knocked down you get back up. You don’t stop learning to walk because the first few times it didn’t go so well. You keep trying. The same applies to your career. If you’ve failed, get back up, brush yourself off and find your next steps.
Write a list of what you’re most passionate about.
Now, write the list. What are you excited about? Right now, that might be having a holiday with your friends. Go away, get it out of the way and then focus on what type of job you want. Are you a motivator, do you like being around people? Are you a solitary character? Try to work out where you think you could see yourself in 10 or 20 years’ time and that’s your map for the future.
As a note for parents: don’t start falling out with them! Equally don’t apply more pressure, because they are already under a huge amount of pressure. I wouldn’t remind them that they have failed either – they already know that! They’ve got a letter that tells them that they are failures. That is so wrong, and I don’t believe in that. Exams are only one way of measuring a child. I am dyslexic and so is my daughter. I was labelled a failure from a very early age; I’ve gone off and built a £350 million business portfolio that’s still growing!