They may have become editors of national papers, famous explorers and leading politicians in later life, but at school they were not heroes in the science lab.
Max Hastings, former Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard editor, was sent home with the damning report: "Has plummeted to the bottom of the form in the first fortnight ... we have looked for signs of surfacing, but there he still is, and only the bubbles rise."
Writer Alan Coren's teacher reported: "Had he lived in an earlier eon, I have little doubt that the wheel would now be square and the principle of the lever just one more of man's impossible dreams."
The report of the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the first man to trek to both the north and south poles, who in 2003 ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, said: "Spoiled much of his real usefulness by hanging back, but showed real ability from time to time."
One teacher wrote of Lord Owen, former leader of the Social Democratic party: "If I had to select an expedition to go to the south pole he would be the first person I would choose. But I would make sure he was not on the return journey!"
But when it comes to Carol Vorderman, there has never been any doubt. Her teacher almost prophesised the Countdown presenter's career: "Has a masterly hold over mathematical computation which should prove profitable later on."
The school reports were compiled by Ed Walsh, science adviser for Cornwall education development service, who was speaking on boys' underachievement in science.