About the Show
This series follows a group of GCSE students, and the staff who teach them, as they face the most important year in their education
Series 1 Summary
What is life really like for today's students and teachers? This series has unprecedented access to an English secondary school to follow a group of GCSE students, and the staff who teach them, as they face the most important year in their education.
Passmores School in Harlow, Essex, is a successful school in a challenging area. Under headteacher Vic Goddard, it's been awarded Academy status and is rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted.
The school has been rigged with 65 fixed cameras - from the corridors to the canteen, and from the headteacher's office to the detention hall - to reveal every detail of daily life.
The first programme of the series joins Passmores School's deputy head Mr Drew on the front line of school discipline.
Dealing with emotional teenagers, enforcing detentions and maintaining the school's high standards - as well as teaching history - is all in a day's work for Mr Drew. Some love him, others love to hate him.
It's the last few days of term before Christmas and Mr Drew has more to contend with than a few snowballs in the playground. When a row over school uniform escalates, an accusation from a pupil threatens to derail his entire career.
This programme features the age-old problem of bullying. From cyber-harassment to an old-fashioned scrap, bullying is something that every school faces.
As headteacher Mr Goddard says, it's only by acknowledging this that a school can tackle the issue. And while technology may have changed, with texts and social media, the issues of falling out and fitting in remain the same.
Rebel Sam and model student Gabby come from opposite ends of the academic spectrum, but both of them, in different ways, have been affected by bullying. When Gabby starts to receive threatening text messages, deputy headteacher Mr Drew plays detective as he tries to discover the culprit and bring them to justice.
And when Sam - who has been bullied in the past for being 'different' - falls out with close friend Dean, Mr Drew is called upon to act as referee as Dean's irate mum and sister arrive at school demanding action.
'Bullying has such a strong connotation,' says Mr Drew. 'People are constantly fearful that their child is being bullied or their child is a bully. Actually these things are very rarely cut and dried.'
Charming but cheeky Vinni was a model student when he started at the school. But since the break-up of Vinni's parents' marriage his behaviour has deteriorated.
So much so that head teacher Mr Goddard worries whether Vinni will make it to the end of Year 11. And some staff question how far the school can go to keep him in school.
When Vinni's home situation dramatically changes, it has a huge impact on his school life and leads Mr Goddard to one of the most heartbreaking moments in his career.
Final year students Sky and Liam's world is turned upside down when they discover they're expecting a baby. Sky desperately wants to finish school, but will she manage to when the baby is due at the same time as her GCSEs?
Luke has a troubled relationship with school. His temper can get the better of him and the staff worry whether they can coax him to the end of the year and the GCSEs that will help determine his future.
As autumn exam week arrives, Mr Drew hands out performance-enhancing 'brain food' (fruit) to the students and deals with Luke as he walks out of the hall mid-paper.
Meanwhile, first-year student Ciaran has an unusual request for headteacher Vic Goddard: he wants time off from lessons to write a novel.
Carrie and Ashleigh are at the heart of the biggest and loudest clique in school: they love clothes, boys and parties.
But teenage girls also love a drama and as the best friends fall out, the argument looks set to disrupt more than their friendship, with the effects spilling into the classroom.
In a modern school, arguments are harder to contain as the issues spread from the classroom to Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger . The school grapevine is soon buzzing.
Meanwhile, Ashleigh's ex-boyfriend Brad is prepared to fight for her love and the teachers discover how tough it can be to keep students focused on academic work and their futures when there are so many distractions.
Has deputy head Mr Drew finally met his match in clever but complicated student Mollie? As Mollie finds herself on report to him so begins a series of demanding, but often delightful, daily encounters between teacher and pupil.
Another regular with Mr Drew is Mollie's equally bright sister Charlotte, who viewers saw bantering with the deputy head earlier in the series. Can the school's teachers coax the two talented girls to finally apply their energy to their academic work?
For all the pouting and tantrums it soon becomes clear that Mollie is actually very fond of 'Drewy' and that student and teacher have more in common than they might have once thought. But will she listen enough to achieve the grade As she is capable of?
As leavers' day, exams and the all-important prom approach, the school tries to prepare two very different students for the future.
Fifteen-year-old Ryan, a recent arrival at the school, has Asperger's. Unsure of what the future will hold, the teachers attempt to equip him for life beyond the security of the school gates.
While Ryan wishes he could stay at school forever, troubled top-set student Vinni can't wait to leave. He voluntarily went into temporary care earlier in the term and now the staff work tirelessly to keep him on the straight and narrow.
Will Vinni leave the care home to move back to his family, can the teachers help him to leave with the grades and opportunities his abilities deserve, and will his behaviour improve enough for him to attend the prom?
As the series draws to a close the students say goodbye to the staff and school, and nervously await their results. Perhaps more nervous than them all, however, is headteacher Vic Goddard. He finds it hard to sleep in the run-up to results day as he waits to see whether the school will achieve its targets.
Educating Essex synopsis
This series follows a group of GCSE students, and the staff who teach them, as they face the most important year in their educationEpisode Guide >