After riding a crowded and smelly bus, Mr. Braithwaite arrives at Greenslade Secondary School where he knocks on the door of the Headmaster, Mr. Florian, who greets him warmly, "...we've been expecting you. Do sit down." Mr. Florian, then, suggests that he take a good look around the school as things are "done differently" at this school. When Braithwaite descends the stairs to a narrow hallway, he is nearly knocked down by a tall red-headed girl who rushes out the door of a classroom. As Mr. Braithwaite looks inside the room, one of the students declares that Mr. Hackman is not there, and asks if he is the new teacher.
From here, Mr. Braithwaite heads to the staff room, where he is greeted by the sarcastic remark, "Ah, another lamb to the slaughter," pronounced by a rather slovenly and hairy young man. Asked what has happened to Mr. Hackman and who will take his class, the young man says that Braithwaite will be given it; after this frightening news, he leaves. Then, a tall blond woman, Mrs. Grace Dale-Evans, the Domestic Science teacher, enters. She speaks to Braithwaite asking him about herself as she tidies up the room. Since the room is stale from smoked cigarettes, Braithwaite opens two of the windows, noticing the view out these windows is rather dismal as a high brick wall separates a churchyard from the school.
Soon, Braithwaite goes down the stairs and passes through a doorway to the courtyard, but it is strewn with leaves and debris. Although the day is bright, the courtyard is dim as are Braithwaite's hopes. Then, a handbell is rung and the lunchbreak begins as Braithwaite hurries back to the staff room where teachers enter. He is introduced to Miss Josy Dawes, Miss Euphemia Phillips, Mr. Theo Weston, the hairy teacher, Miss Vivian Clintridge, the art teacher, and Miss Gillian Blanchard. who is also new. While talking with the faculty, Mr. Braithwaite learns that there is no corporeal punishment, nor much of any other kind, at the school.
At the end of the lunch break, the students file into an area by the church where they dance to swing music, the midday dance session. When the tall red-haired girl invites him to dance, Braithwaite is rather disconcerted, while at the same time he is excited at the prospect of teaching such near adult students as he returns to Mr. Florian's office. There, he tells Mr. Florian he will "have a shot at it" and accepts the position. As Mr. Florian begins to explain the socio-economic status of the students, Braithwaite is less inclined to feel sympathy for them, yet he cannot keep from being impressed by Florian's deep concern for the students. He explains,
"As things are we cannot expect of them high academic effort, but we can take steps to ensure that their limited abilities are exploited to the full....We encourage them to speak up for themselves, no matter what the circumstances or the occasion....As teachers, we can help greatly if we become sufficiently important to them...or even outweigh the evil"
As he shakes the hand of Mr. Braithwaite, Mr. Florian tells him they are wonderful children when he gets to know them. Then, Braithwaite returns to the staff room where Mrs. Drew talks with him. On the way home, Braithwaite rejoices at being employed. He vows to learn to cope as he has not entered the teaching field out of any sense of vocation.