Here are some famous folks who flunked school to various degrees and picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and went on to be highly successful. 

Winston Churchill




Winston began boarding school at 7 and hated it. He regularly misbehaved and didn’t do very well at all. He only just passed the entrance exam to Harrow School. Although Winston did better here, his teachers described him as unpunctual and careless. He performed poorly in most of his exams. He went on to be prime minister. Twice. 

Drew Barrymore 




Drew had her first acting job at 3 but was in rehab by the time she was 13. She decided not to continue her education when she came out of recovery. Not only is Drew a successful actor, she founded her own production company, which made films such as Donnie Darko and Charlie’s Angels.  




Albert Einstein




Albert hated school, especially the strict rules and having to learn by rote. He did well in maths but failed various entrance exams as well as language, botany and French. Evidence suggests Albert might have had dyslexia. 


Jo Fairley


You might not recognise her name but you probably know her company. Jo left school before taking her A levels but went on to be the youngest female editor in the UK once she took over Cosmopolitan magazine. Jo founded Green and Blacks chocolate company. 


Thomas Edison 




Teachers told Thomas he was too stupid to learn. He was fired from his first two jobs. Thomas went on to invent the light bulb. He also has a whopping 1,000 patents to his name. Maybe his teachers weren’t so right after all. 


Ang Lee




The film director who has three academy awards to his name failed to pass the entrance exams to college in Taiwan - twice - and his English wasn’t good enough for acting school. He went on to make Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonand Life of Pi.