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The Best Movies Set In Secondary Schools

The Best Movies Set In Secondary Schools

Alice O'Donnell
There’s no escaping it – summer has well and truly gone, and autumnal school days are upon us.

Already a month of early mornings, too heavy backpacks and maths exercise have passed, and so has most of the excitement of a new academic year. However, no matter how long and hard your schooldays are looking, an evening spent cuddling popcorn and watching a high school movie can uplift even the most dreariest of days.

Below are our top picks of movies set in secondary schools that can cheer up even the most miserable teachers.

Sing Street

No matter how bad those Hopkin quotes are to memorise, this film will end up putting a smile on your face.

Set in Dublin in the mid-80s, this film revolves around a group of young musicians trying to forge a path in the 80s techno musical world. The film introduces a wide breadth of characters, from Connor the protagonist and Eamon, his bunny obsessed friend, to Baxter, their abusive teacher. While juggling topics such as young love and bullying, the film also touches into deeper issues such as troubled home life, and the cruelty of the Christian Brothers. Balancing a mix of comedy and tragedy, the film is jam-packed with great music numbers that’ll keep you bopping to synthetic beats for weeks after.

With a Golden Globe Nomination, it seems it’s not only us that loved the film.

The Edge of Seventeen

Nadine personifies anyone who’s ever felt the odd one out, be it in school or with family. With her all-star brother and perfectionist mom, Nadine’s only source of comfort is her best friend Krista. But when Krista seemingly chooses Nadine’s brother over their friendship, Nadine is suddenly forced to revaluate everything she thought she knew.

Although humours at parts, this film is also strikingly poignant and moving, and deals with self-confidence, and what it’s like to be feel isolated and alone. Also, we lowkey wish that Woody Harris had been a teacher in our school– it certainly would’ve livened things up!

Handsome Devil

A film for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in school. It focuses on Ned, a musical young student at an Irish boarding school. With a passion for music which overpowers any interest in rugby, he is ruthlessly tormented by his sport-crazed fellow pupils. However, Ned’s perspective on life is drastically changed when he meets Connor, the new kid who not only is gifted at rugby, but also loves music.

This movie really highlights the issue of the homophobic atmosphere of present in Irish schools, as well as the struggle of accepting your sexuality. With a powerful and humorous story, and supported by actors like Andrew Scott, what’s not to love?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Perhaps not the most obscure film of the pick, but its popularity is for a reason. Even if your love life seems out of control, Lara Jean surely has it worse. After her secret stash of letters (mysteriously) get mailed to her crushes, Lara Jean finds herself having to deal with old and new loves. No matter how bad those modh coinníollach exercises are, this film is sure to pick you up.

And with the next two films already filmed, it won’t be long until Lara Jean joins us for more high school ups and downs.

You can watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix now.


See Also

A classic. Despite being 20-year-old, and based the a 200-year-old book Emma, Clueless still manages to be as relevant today as it was then.

When Cher, a popular blonde teenage queen sets up two teachers on a date, she gets a taste for matchmaking, and sets her gaze on the new girl Tai.

A film that takes doesn’t require too much deep thinking, Clueless will leave you with a smile on your face and a renewed love for classic 90s liners such as “As if!” and “I’m Audi”. Plus, with a young Paul Rudd playing Cher’s stepbrother Josh, the film has it all!


Ladybird swept the awards when it was released last year, and for good reason. With a sparse plot, the film concentrates solely on Christina, or Ladybird, and her final year of high school. This film is perfect for those in Leaving Cert Year, as it touches on the uncertainty of life after school, as well as the struggle of trying to forge your own identity.

The most poignant part for us was the development of Christina’s relationship with her mother, as it seems every young adult and their parents must redefine their relationship as they move away from such a reliant child-parent bond.

The cast are superb, with our very own Saoirse Ronan as the title character, and it is a joy to watch them bring the story to life.

What are your favourite movies set in schools?

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