Waterloo Road Comprehensive school is on the scrap heap. Its despondent teachers have given up trying to make a difference as they struggle to cope with their own personal problems on top of their nightmare jobs. When the headmaster has a nervous breakdown, Jack Rimmer reluctantly takes the reins. He's very aware that Waterloo Road has hit rock bottom, and he feels the pressure to make improvements -- fast. Taking a gamble, he recruits optimistic educational zealot Andrew Treneman, who wants to give up his comfortable private school job to bring the benefits of his elite education to Waterloo Road.