It's September 1960. Mark Barker has passed his eleven-plus and has followed his brother into Parkside Grammar School for boys. Having two sons at a Grammar School places a huge burden on his working class family and he is already wearing his brother's hand-me-down blazer, while all around him are wearing brand new uniforms. The Headmaster at Parkside likes to run the school with an iron discipline and frequently punishes miscreants with the cane, putting a tremendous fear into this sensitive young boy. The pupils also fear Mr Tucker, the evil Sports Master who is not averse to physical violence to instil discipline.
Having been split from his old primary school friends, Mark now seeks to forge new friendships and is reasonably successful, but he is unable to shake off the annoying Jarvis who is forever trying to crack silly jokes and gets Mark into trouble.
When puberty strikes, Mark finds himself discovering new sensations. His encounters with girls are few and far between, but when they occur, it leaves him perturbed and frustrated. However, if encounters with the opposite sex cause him anguish, those with the same sex confuse him even further. His new softly-spoken friend Lenny talks in sexual innuendos and when Mark discovers the truth about Lenny and his friend Toots, he has to tackle his prejudices head on.