It's the first day of term and six graduate trainees who have never taught before are thrown in at the deep end. Oxford graduate Charles is teaching at the Archbishop Lanfranc School in Croydon, a rundown and overcrowded comprehensive. Charles faces a huge workload of 500 students a week to teach, some of whom have only just arrived in the country and cannot speak English.
Nick and Meryl are both teaching at the Harefield Academy, a school in a traditional working class community. Meryl teaches English and is shocked to discover that some of her Year 9 pupils cannot spell even four-letter words. Maths teacher Nick faces an uphill battle with apathy as some students admit they simply can't be bothered to learn.
Oliver is on a mission to inspire his charges with poetry and music, if only he could remember the words. Claudenia's first science lesson goes with a bang, but it's not long before she's reduced to tears at Crown Woods College in Eltham.