AIRDATE: October 28th 2009
Written by: Ann McManus
A brand new term at Waterloo Road heralds a major new change. The school has merged with local independent, John Fosters – which was forced to close when wealthy parents could no longer afford the fees – and as a result, the gates are opened to around 100 newly enrolled pupils. Neither the “posh” John Fosters pupils nor the “scuzzy” Waterloo Road kids are happy about it. The playground divisions are echoed in the staffroom as a number of the John Fosters team have been ushered in to ensure a smooth transition. Amongst them are Christopher Mead, an ex-city-boy turned science teacher and the new Deputy Head; Ruby Fry, the food technology teacher who is every bit as snobby as her pupils; and a new head of languages, Jo Lipsett, whose enthusiasm and competence spells major trouble for Steph.
Elsewhere, the James family is far from a happy one. A troubled-looking Marion James sees her daughters, Lindsey and Emily, off for their first day as Waterloo Road pupils. Emily is worried that her parents may be on the verge of a divorce, causing older sister Lindsey to snap at her. This altercation is witnessed by a worried Rachel who, misunderstanding the situation, reassures Emily that Waterloo Road is nowhere near as bad as some people may have been making out. Inside the school, Lindsey rushes off to be sick in the toilets, unaware that the police have just arrived at her house.
Rachel heads off to welcome pupils new and old at assembly. Having ordered the two sets of pupils and staff to “mingle”, she’s just about to hit her stride when the entrance of new Executive ‘super’ Head, Max Tyler causes the John Fosters kids to launch into a round of applause. Under the guise of “reassuring the new intake”, he takes the stage and makes it clear that he won’t stand for any rivalries or “bad blood” between the two sets of pupils, announcing that “John Fosters standards and values will be maintained in the new Waterloo Road”, a statement that alarms both Rachel and Kim. After assembly, Rachel offers to take Max on a tour of the school, but he snubs her.
As the two sets of pupils continue to niggle each other, peace breaks out in the art room where Phillip is delighted to make the acquaintance of new girl Ros McCain. They’ve both been recruited to help Kim assemble a sculpture in the school grounds out of old junk. Max interrupts his tour to check on the sculpture’s progress and to make an attempt at getting Kim on side, something that doesn’t escape a worried Rachel’s notice. Meanwhile, newly qualified teacher and Max’s “star pupil”, Helen Hopewell is undergoing a baptism of fire. The class are quick to realise that she’s way out of her depth and bedlam ensues. Before long, Michaela has a terrified Helen backed into a corner, but she gets carried away whilst throwing her weight around and ends up on the receiving end of Lindsey’s fists. It takes Tom to pull the two girls apart.
As the inter-school rivalry spreads to the staffroom, outside on the playing field, a full-scale war erupts with Michaela and Lindsey as the main ringleaders. Rachel manages to calm the situation – not before the hapless Helen gets caught in the crossfire – but she has some devastating news for Lindsey and Emily: their father is dead and their mother has confessed to his murder. The girls are left reeling, as is Rachel when she tries to confide in Max – she should have known that something was seriously wrong that morning. His response is to accuse her of “dropping the ball”. Rachel is further undermined when Max completely takes over during the unveiling of Kim’s sculpture. It is now clear that by far the biggest rivalry is between the two senior members of Waterloo Road’s management team.
After being snubbed by Max and told off by Rachel for blowing up tales of ‘staffroom bullying’ out of all proportion, Helen is very much a woman on the edge... literally: as the rest of the staff and pupils cheer the unveiling of the sculpture outside, she has a funny turn and falls down a flight of stairs. Once safely inside an ambulance, Helen tells Max that Michaela pushed her. However, he’s quickly losing patience with her and accuses her of engineering the incident in an attempt to draw attention to herself. She responds by threatening to reveal that she was once a lot more than just his “star pupil”.
It’s the end of a long first day and Steph, Tom, Kim and Grantly head down to the pub for a bonding session with Christopher and Jo. Back at school, Rachel is shocked when Max drops a bombshell: after today’s events there is no way he’s leaving her in charge. He intends to base himself permanently at Waterloo Road, and also share her office. To reiterate his point, he ushers a now furious Rachel out of ‘their’ office and slams the door in her face...
(All information taken from Official Waterloo Road Website)