It's 1983 at Cutlers Grammar School - a boys school - in Sheffield, Yorkshire. A group of eight upperclassmen have obtained the highest A-level scores ever for the school and aspire to enter either Oxford or Cambridge. Helping them prepare for the university entrance exam are two of their regular teachers, Mrs. Lintott, the feminist no-nonsense History teacher, and Mr. Hector, the General Studies teacher who holds his seemingly unstructured classes more like theatrical productions, where students often perform scenes from classic movies. But believing the boys are crass and uncultured, the school's arrogant headmaster believes they require additional coaching to give them what he calls an edge. As such, he hires Mr. Irwin, a recent Oxford graduate, who teaches them to question all conventional academic material taught to them, and whenever possible take a counter stance to stand out from the crowd. Irwin, Hector and Lintott's teaching are often at odds with each other as are the headmaster's wants. Although the teachers' personal lives rarely enter the school, the rides home that Hector gives to the boys on his motorcycle and the adoration that Dakin, the class ladies man, has on Irwin may provide a little insight into those personal lives. The latter is much to the chagrin of another of the boys, the young Posner, who believes he is gay, wants to be gay and is openly in love with Dakin himself.