The 25 best movies set in schools

School daze

Your school days are the best of your life, right? Most of us probably hope not, remembering angry teachers, impossible maths homework, and vicious bullies.

But though we might not actually want to relive our formative years, theres something irresistible about a good school movie. After all, our teenage years were when we figured out who we were, who our friends were, and who we might want to be when we grew up. It wasnt easy, but it felt important, even if only because we didnt know what the adult world had in store for us when it was all over. What follows is a list of movies that perfectly capture the special kind of pain of going to school

School Of Rock (2003)

The school: The rather swish Horace Greene Prep School.

The staff: The school is run by Principal Roz Mullins (Joan Cusack), who ought to have checked her references more thoroughly before hiring substitute teacher Dewey Finn (Jack Black).

The students: Mostly a group of posh kids, with a tendency to answer back and latent musical talent.

What weve learned: That rock music is a force for good that can unite even the most diverse personalities (though it might not get you into your university of choice).

Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone (2001)

The school: The elusive (and exclusive) Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry. Its invitation only, and the prospectus wont even tell you where it is.

The staff: Quirky types like Professor Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), and Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith).

The students: Hogwarts pupils fall into four different categories: brave Gryffindors, loyal Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and bratty Slytherins.

What weve learned: Not all teachers can be trusted, magic is real, and the course of your entire future can be changed by a squashed-looking hat.

The Craft (1996)

The school: St Benedicts Catholic School, a religious school thats surprisingly lax about its students extra-curricular activities.

The staff: All nuns, except the swimming coach, for some reason.

The students: Either goody-two-shoes types like Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor) and her clique of perfectly manicured racists, or rebellious goths like Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) and her coven.

What weve learned: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Also, love spells are generally a bad idea.

Never Been Kissed (1999)

The school: South Glen South High School, home to every teen stereotype imaginable.

The staff: None of them make much of an impression, except English teacher Mr Coulson (Michael Vartan), who probably ought to lose his job after falling for a student.

The students: All the usual cliques are represented; the only remarkable thing about them, really, is that theyre incapable of telling the difference between a 17-year-old girl and a 20-something journalist trying to be down with the kids.

What weve learned: Some things never change.

Jennifers Body (2009)

The school: Unknown.

The staff: Mostly out of touch but well-meaning, like science teacher Mr Wroblewski (J.K. Simmons), who just wants the best for the kids in his care, even if he doesnt understand their pop culture obsessions.

The students: Jocks, goths, nerds, mean girls: all the usual types are represented, though they seem to mix more freely than in some other movie high schools, to the point where a mopey goth like Colin (Kyle Gallner) could date queen bee Jennifer (Megan Fox), and she could be BFFs with nerdy Needy (Amanda Seyfried).

What weve learned: Teenage girls can be evil, but nowhere near as evil as the older men who prey on them.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

The school: Preston Senior High School, the only high school in Preston, Idaho.

The staff: Somehow they dont seem very relevant to a students experience at this school.

The students: A surprisingly diverse cross-section: from outcast Napoleon (Jon Heder) to new student Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to popular girl Summer (Haylie Duff) and teen entrepreneur Deb (Tina Majorino).

What weve learned: Anyone can achieve their dreams, with a little help from their friends (and a Jamiroquai backing track).

St Trinians (2007)

The school: St Trinians, obviously an English boarding school for girls.

The staff: Members of staff include headmistress Miss Camilla Dagey Fritton (Rupert Everett), English teacher Miss Dickinson (Lena Headey), sports teacher Miss Cleaver (Fenella Woolgar), and languages teacher Miss Maupassant (Caterina Murino). Really, though, the school is run by the girls.

The students: These fall into a series of categories, too, though slightly different categories from their American counterparts. Here, weve got Posh Totty, Chavs, Emos, Geeks, and, er, First Years, who have yet to find their tribe.

What weve learned: Sometimes, crime pays.

Bad Teacher (2011)

The school: John Adams Middle School, somewhere near Chicago.

The staff: Principal Snur (John Michael Higgins), gym teacher Mr Gettis (Jason Segel), and various other teachers, including Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) and the bad teacher of the title, Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz).

The students: There probably are some, but theyll be watching a movie while their teacher sleeps off her hangover.

What weve learned: Comedies about delinquent women can be just as funny as those about slacker blokes.

To Sir, With Love (1967)

The school: North Quay Secondary School, a rough establishment in east London.

The staff: Most of them have quit in despair, but Mr Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) is determined to get through to his charges, no matter how much they act out.

The students: Kids whove been expelled from other schools, with the various behaviour disorders that implies. The naughtiest are Bert (Christian Roberts) and Pamela (Judy Geeson).

What weve learned: No-ones beyond reach, if you just try. Sniff.