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With GCSE results out today, what happens if you don't get the results you want?
Adee Phelan is an example of what you can still achieve. He quit school at age ten - and is now hairdresser to the rich and famous, including the Beckhams, with a TV show on the way.
And while he wouldn't advise it as a life choice, he says he is proof you can still become successful - without those A-C grades. Mark Gough has been talking to him.
No-one was more delighted with their GCSE results today than 16-year-old Aisha Seedat.
The student from Beauchamp College in Oadby in Leicestershire has Morquio's Syndrome, a rare and incurable genetic condition which affects bone development and internal organs.
Aisha has spent her life going in and out of hospital and was also very poorly during the exams in June.
With the support of her teachers, she has managed to complete her GCSE studies in mainstream education and was today rewarded with passes in five subjects, gaining an A, a B and three Cs. It means she can now stay on to take her A-levels.
A Derby student who is working in cancer research has been awarded 9 A* GCSE grades.
Ellie Mandale, of Longford, was one of the top achievers at Derby High School and said she was thrilled with her results.
The 16-year-old is in the middle of a work placement at a Nottingham University laboratory where scientists are looking at ways of detecting lung cancer early using blood tests.
Schools across the Midlands were today bracing themselves for a dip in GCSE results following a huge shake-up in the exam system.
For the first time, students sat final exams in the summer rather than being continually assessed in module units and the January exams were also scrapped.
Beauchamp College in Oadby in Leicestershire saw a slight fall in the number of students gaining 5 A*-C grades but experts say comparisons with previous years are virtually meaningless because of the scale of the reforms.
Despite the changes to exams though it was a record year for GCSEs at Haywood Academy in Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent.
Thousands of students across the region will get their GCSE results this morning.
They come after a major shake up to the exam system.
Students sat their exams at the end of their two years of study, instead of taking modules during their course.
As pupils across the West Midlands get their GCSE results this morning, one school in Telford will be celebrating an extra special achievement.
Thomas Telford School today becomes the first comprehensive school in the country where every year 11 student has achieved the benchmark of at least 5 GCSEs at Grades A* to C, including Maths and English.
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All school-leavers must stay in education or training- but what if you don't know what to do OR you've missed out on the grades you wanted?