Alan Yeates (1959 – 2018)

The many messages through emails, letters and social media have said it all. Alan Yeates’ death is both sad and untimely. An inspiration to generations of boys at RGS since 1982.

Thirty-five years in one place of work is, indeed, unusual today – less so in schools perhaps but a real indication of the fact that Alan simply loved RGS. As a teacher, Alan was exceptionally highly regarded. Teaching both French and German (mostly the latter in recent years) Alan ensured that his students achieved good results but also (and in his mind more importantly) a love of languages.

A grammar school boy himself, Alan grew up in Portsmouth (a steadfast Pompey supporter) attending Portsmouth Grammar School, progressing to the University of London (Queen Mary’s College) for his degree and to the University of Oxford (Pembroke) for his teaching certificate. Having spent a year abroad as part of his degree and with a love of sport, music and outdoor pursuits, Alan was clearly an attractive candidate for RGS when he submitted his application to Rowland Brown, the Headmaster of the day.

The rest is an enviable and illustrious history of outstanding commitment. Alan has held posts as Subject Leader for German and ultimately Modern Foreign Languages. Along the way he has been a boarding tutor (Uplyme), Master i/c Cricket, Examinations Officer and a general overall support to games and particular sports within the school. In recent years, Alan has been Chairman of the Common Room – an honorary post, which binds the support and social network of a large staff together. Alan took part in and ran a number of trips. He was very proud of the Osnabrück trip, which he inherited and nurtured into the successful programme, which has been running for well over 40 years, the longest running exchange in the UK, we believe.

When Alan was not busy teaching, running a department or supporting the sports programme he found the time to attend school concerts, take part in the Staff Reviews (a great highlight for many students in the 80’s and 90’s) and play the organ at St Margaret’s in Tylers Green.

It was, however, his family who were most important to him. I know that his wife Deborah, greatly saddened, has been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kind remarks about Alan. We also think of Jonathan and William, his sons who are both students at RGS. They will have a hard road ahead but can be assured of the support of the RGS family spirit which Alan did so much to nourish with his kind and caring demeanour.

Alan’s funeral will be taking place Wednesday 24 January at St Margaret’s, Tylers Green at 1.30pm. All are welcome to the church, though the committal service at the Crematorium will only be for the family.

Many OWs will have memories and maybe a picture of Alan that they would like to share with the family.  If you would like send your condolences via the book, please send them via email to and we will incorporate them.

Philip Wayne


With Deep Regret RGS Announces the Death of Alan Yeates

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of our Head of Modern Foreign Languages and German, Alan Yeates.

Alan had already fought cancer and was able to return to work for almost two years. Sadly, the return of cancer resulted in a fairly swift decline in health, and his subsequent death in hospital last night.

Alan joined RGS in September 1982 and has since inspired generations of young gentlemen in the study of German and French. He was also a dedicated and caring form tutor throughout his time in the school and, as the longest serving member of the teaching staff, was Chairman of the Common Room.

We will all miss Alan terribly – a genuine, super chap and a first-class teacher. We held a brief assembly this morning but there will be a more formal memorial service for the boys later in the term.

I am sure that you will join me as I send my condolences to his wife and to his sons, both of whom are students at RGS.

Philip Wayne

Headmaster’s Letter to Parents and OWs

Many thanks to staff, boys and parents for their co-operation during the bad weather.  I am sure that many of us enjoyed a largely unexpected Monday at home but I was very pleased to be able to open again on Tuesday. We had excellent attendance and, whilst I’m sure that there will have been a few howls of protest ‘why has the Headmaster opened the school?’ (or maybe something less polite), I do believe that we have a responsibility to teach the importance of ‘business as usual’ when, of course, it is safe to do so.

From what I can tell, the communications worked well but I would, as ever, appreciate any feedback if you feel that there is anything that was missed.

As you are aware, we were unable to hold our Carol Service on Monday.  It is taking place at 5pm this afternoon, as notified.

We all enjoyed our Christmas lunch, with 650 servings in just over an hour.  Many thanks to our caterers for their hard work in making this happen.  It was good to see so many people wearing their Christmas jumpers (including staff).

We say goodbye to Miss Elizabeth Bishop, who has taken a post in the independent sector. We all wish Miss Bishop every success and thank her for her work at RGS.  We have secured the services of Dr Tamar who replaces Miss Bishop in the short term.

‘For behold’, saith County Transport, ‘I shew you a mystery.  Whither goeth the school bus after Christmas?’

Following the bewildering letter you may have received from the County Council, I will let you know when I have seen further information about the imminent changes to some of the routes and, if necessary, seek your feedback.


Report from Mr Silvey:  On 24 November, twelve Year 8 boys took part in the U13 National competition held at Eton. In what was a rather long and chilly day the boys played tremendously well with two pairs getting into the main competition after the group stages, sadly both losing to Highgate in the first and second round of the knockout.  The pair of Brandon Tchoudi and Daniel Hanrahan got to the final of the plate competition but lost in a tough fought battle, also against Highgate.  On 26 November, twelve Year 7 boys took part in the individual competition, also held at Eton.  They didn’t get as far as their counterparts in Year 8 but learned a lot and, with a little work, we should be able to hold our own at the Nationals in March.

Pete Fletcher, Managing Director of World Challenge, delivered an excellent Ethos of Learning assembly on Tuesday. He shared with the students the important values, which have shaped his highly successful career. From rowing the Atlantic to running a highly successful business, those same values have been imperative in all he has achieved.

As you may know, we have a recently renovated indoor climbing wall at RGS.  Unfortunately we currently have no-one with an Indoor Climbing Wall Instructor qualification who is able to lead climbing as an activity either during TAA or at another time.  If you know of anyone who would be interested in this activity, who would have the right level of qualification to instruct others (The British Mountaineering Council’s Climbing Wall Award), please could you ask them to contact Miss Munday ( for more details.


Report from Mr Venvell:  16 RGS musicians had the good fortune to have a long weekend in the beautiful city of Salzburg as part of the ongoing cultural exchange between the Music Department and the Bundesgymnasium Nonntal, which was established about 10 years ago through the contacts of Richard Bolton. The boys joined the BGN choir for an Advent Concert in the Church of St Erhard near the school and sang Mass at Salzburg Cathedral on Sunday morning to a congregation of approximately 800 people!  On Sunday evening they attended a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in the Mozarteum, and on Monday morning had a tour of the Festival District, being allowed to sing in the 2300-seater Opera House. The snowy weather was literally the icing on the cake!  Singers Ltd have also added some musical notes to the website.

At the end of the term, I am asked to sign Accelerated Reader certificates, often contracting RSI in the process of doing so.  Our librarian, Mrs Jones has written the following for your interest:  As we approach the end of this year’s first term, the Year 7 and 8 boys have settled into their use of the Library, are reading well and are using the Accelerated Reader software to quiz themselves on the books they have read.  House points will be awarded to the ‘top reading’ houses. Currently, with one week to run, Buckingham (7AB) are leading Year 7 with 442 quizzes (nearly 14 books per boy – well over the national average for a year, not just a term).  In Year 8, Buckingham are also in the lead with 179 quizzes. The leading form in Year 8 is 8FH with 283 quizzes, though 8VC are hot on their heels with 269. 277 Progress Certificates have been handed out so far, with a pleasing number of boys reaching the prestigious ‘Classic Reader’ level. This award represents a significant number of books read and successfully quizzed upon and is a particularly good achievement for any Year 7 boy this early in the year. Word Millionaire certificates are also in circulation.  We currently have 28 millionaires, with five Year 7s having passed the 2 Million mark.  Again, this indicates sustained, mindful reading and we congratulate these boys and the English and Form teachers who consistently encourage them and support the strong reading culture that we have at RGS.

I should like to thank parents who are contributing towards our Annual Fund – some of you for many years.   We have had a number of new donors this year – generous gifts which go a long way to enabling us to work towards the exceptional education we strive to provide.  We cannot ‘live by state grant alone’ and we really do appreciate the support through the Annual Fund and the various ‘Friends of’ groups.  If you have not yet been able to subscribe but feel that you may be in a position to do so, please do consider supporting your son’s school.  With many thanks.

Report from the RGSPA:  The Fair raised £3,725. About 550 people attended and sold approximately 1,850 raffle tickets. The top form for raffle ticket selling was 8FH with 125 tickets. The top salesman was Ben Huddleston of 8LH who sold 50 tickets. The PA would like to thank all those who came along and those that donated raffle prizes, items for the hampers (which raised £300), the tombola (which raised £400) and the cake stall (raising £150). Thanks also to those businesses that advertised in the programme. We hope that everyone who came along enjoyed all the activities on offer.

Report from Mrs Francis:  Last Thursday morning the Year 9s were given a small insight into the breadth, success and range of careers available in the creative industries. The boys heard that not only has this sector grown at twice the rate of the wider economy in 2015-2016, the creative industries now accounts for one in eleven jobs, a rate rising more quickly than all other parts of the economy.  We were fortunate enough to have several experienced and fascinating speakers, including Mr Forrest-Smith – a storyboard artist whose latest films include Star Wars, The Force Awakens and Wonder Woman, Mr Whalley, who had previously designed one of the Raleigh Chopper bikes, and a returning old boy, Oli Munby, whose is currently studying Architecture at UCL along with our own Mr Bowen ‘Artist in Residence’ who talked about his successful ceramics career creating bespoke pieces for numerous high end Michelin starred restaurants. The boys said they found it a very engaging and eye opening assembly.

 I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

Philip Wayne

Headmaster’s Letter to Parents and OWs

I reported in my previous letter about the House of Commons visit – I have included one of the photographs above, for your interest.

Mr Yeates is not well at present and may be out of school for a few weeks. Miss Munday is endeavouring to arrange cover for his lessons, always a challenge as qualified German teachers are as rare as ‘Hennezähne’. We all wish Mr Yeates well and we look forward to his return soon.

As ever this was an excellent event but with an added dimension this year. We were very pleased to welcome a number of OWs, together with family representatives of the late Frederick Youens and Ian Fraser (both VC) OWs to dedicate memorial stones in their memory. They are now in pride of place beneath the Hartwell House chapel crest on the landing to the Queen’s Hall. Many thanks to Ben Parker, a local stonemason, for giving of his time to install them professionally.

Following this we had the annual outdoor Service of Remembrance which was (on a warmer than usual, bright day) a true reflection of the seriousness with which boys and staff take this important occasion. You may like to look at my Twitter account @RGSHW for some stunning photographs. We were also delighted to be joined by a record number of guests and parents. Thanks to Wing Commander Mark Dunlop who laid the wreath and to Andrew McDonald, our Head Boy for his introduction and reading of the Kohima Epitaph and our Hon Chaplain, Mr Booth, for leading the prayers for both events. I am glad that we have our own Chaplain as Vicars can be hard to pin down midweek because of their other commitments – the crematorium usually gets in first! We were pleased, however, to have the Vicar of the parish of Terriers, who takes a great interest in the school, as a part of the platform party – A former parent, Canon Tony Dickinson will be taking up a post in Italy early in the new year.

This is an annual event kindly hosted by Wycombe Abbey School. It gave our students the opportunity to engage in subject-based academic discussion and debate and is an ideal opportunity for those looking at competitive universities or those who just enjoy talking about their subjects. Those aspiring to study medicine also benefitted from an MMI preparation session, run by The Medic Portal. The evening finished with a most enjoyable meal attended by students and staff of both schools. This is also a good ‘co-ed’ learning and social environment (though I am quite certain that most students from both institutions are perfectly capable of arranging the latter themselves!).

The Deputy Headmaster and I have been very pleased to present Duke of Edinburgh Bronze awards to groups of boys over the last few weeks. I am aware of the commitment, on the part of both staff and boys, to achieve these rewards and it was a pleasure to commend them in person. I did try a little quip about the Duke of Edinburgh having retired so this ‘Philip’ would have to do, but the reaction was such that I don’t think I’ll take up comedy for a living.

Click on this link and you will be greeted with an autumnal colour palette. This serves as the flyer for the Parents’ Association Autumn Fair, which takes place on 25 November 2017. Please do support this important fundraising event. The PA would still like to hear from you if you could bake a cake for the cake stall. Please contact them at if you can help. There are many other ways to support the event including buying raffle tickets or booking sessions for the Archery and Zorb football activities via ParentPay. There is also a Bag2school collection arranged for the day of the fair. Bring your bags of second hand clothes, shoes and soft toys along with you when you come to the fair.

I shall look forward to seeing Year 11 boys and their parents at our Sixth Form Open Evening, about which there is more detail here. This is a super opportunity to hear about what the sixth form has to offer, our approach to the balance of independent learning with guided study and the breadth of facilitating subjects which open, rather than close, doors to the future. I believe that we are moving apace with our direction in the Sixth Form, subjects and HE/Careers, with the result that boys can work hard, play hard and benefit from a plethora of opportunities to develop workplace, social and leadership skills as well as good results.

Our Master in Charge of Rowing, Mr de Kock, has prepared some ‘oarsome’ highlights for you.

“Competing at many events so far this season has seen The RGS rowers move forward while achieving well at local events. They most recently competed at Reading Small Boats Head where the U/15 A quad boys put in a strong performance to pick up 3rd place overall. At the same event the 1st Quad of Ben Hinves (Year 12), James Forster (Year 12), Toko Avaliani (Year 11) and Duncan Huntley (Year 11) raced to a fantastic 1st place winning their category.

Over the half term break Ben Hinves (Year 12) and James Forster (Year 12) were invited to GB junior training camp at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. Over the four days the boys were given time to train with some of the best rowers and coaches from around the country. They used this time wisely as an opportunity to increase their training knowledge on and off the water. The same two boys will be competing at the early identification trials in Boston on 18 November.

Henley long distance sculls over the past weekend (4 Nov) was a successful outing for RGS rowing with three U16 singles competing to a very close finish with the U16 quad putting in a strong row. Undoubtedly, the event of the weekend must go to the U15 boys who were able to row to a 1st and 2nd place in the U15 Quadruple sculls with the distance between the two boats being less than a second.

Rounding up the racing before the cold of winter kicks in is the Fours Head of the River where the top senior quad will be competing on the tideway in an event that is a backwards version of The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. This is considered a highlight in the rowing calendar and certainly makes for some exciting racing before the holiday period.”

It will not surprise you to know that we take a dim view of any form of bullying. All surveys of RGS boys indicate that bullying is mercifully rare, but there is never room for complacency. An excellent assembly led by Callum Hart and Jamie Wren, with a frank film by way of illustration started the week off. Mr Wallace followed up with a clear message about words which have fallen into the lexicon of young people such as ‘snake’ and ‘snitch’. This reminded us all that we should ‘do the right thing’ and inform a member of staff of any concerns. The ‘MUFTI’ day on Friday, for which all participating boys should please donate £1, will go towards Anti-Bullying charities and Children in Need.

We aim to be good neighbours, so may I please, in support of Chris Hall’s letter last week, respectfully ask all those who convey their sons to school by car to drop off and to park with consideration for local residents. The Estates Team has been working on signage for Saturday fixtures, which seems to be working well. It has now taken two years, and the patience of Job on the part of Chris Hall (Finance Director at RGS) and Colin Clark (former parent), to finally get what is, I’m afraid, an eye-wateringly expensive, impossible to meet quotation out of the council for some sort of traffic calming measures in Hamilton Road. I am not quite at the stage where I shall buy a pot of white paint and create a zebra crossing myself as my resilient team are continuing to rattle cages to ensure the safety of your son as he crosses the road to Uplyme and back.

Tomos Miller was selected to join the Welsh Rugby Union Exiles U15 Squad last Thursday in North Wales. The Exiles played three games against the North Wales Regions and won all three matches. Tom scored three tries in his first match.

I was delighted to meet Ruben Kapoor, Cameron Sloan, Gavin Harries, Zaahir Ali, Chris Goede, Sam Dobey and Abdulhaseeb Atif for their excellent work in biology. Please see the photograph above. This was a classic example of ‘going the extra mile’ with boys having spent many hours on some excellent models of the nervous system. One model required an elder brother’s assistance to carry it to my study.

Philip Wayne

Headmaster’s Letter to Parents and OWs


Dear Parent and OW

I’m going to roll back just before half-term and share with you some highlights of a musical feast.

I am currently Vice-Chairman of the Grammar School Heads’ Association (for my sins). Heads receive an annual invite from the Friends of Grammar Schools to a reception in the House of Commons. This year, RGS was invited to provide the background music for the reception, so I leapt at the opportunity. Many thanks to our quintet, comprising Will Rose, Jethro Reading, Varun Dinesh, Hugh Laughton and Kian Pourkarimi, fortified by the direction of Mr Venvell. I received many positive comments about the music – ‘the best ever’, said one Headmaster. Whether he meant it or says the same every year I accepted the compliment with pride and, of course, agreed.

This was the night before our Autumn Recital – an evening of first rate solos, ensembles and choral music. Music and sport are similar in a school context, as the high performing senior players are very often manifesting themselves in the lower school. So, for example, watching and listening to our 70 strong Junior Choir and Second Wind Band leads to older boys being skilled practitioners and team players in the form of the latest incarnation of our senior a cappella group ‘Singers Limited’. Going back a stage further, I was delighted to be invited to a concert given by Chiltern Music Academy, in which 250 children from local prep, primary schools and Year 7s from grammar schools and upper schools played together a piece composed by Andy Rogers, the Principal. It was an exhilarating experience and a really high-quality, musical performance. Of course, Team Venvell (Messrs and Mrs) were in the thick of it along with a number of our own
boys who supported and coached some of the ensembles. There are far too many comments in the press, often supported by musicians who should know better, that music is dying in state secondary schools. I’m sorry to disappoint them, but it’s alive and kicking at RGS.

A most successful trip to America took place – here is Mrs Forster’s report:
Over October half term the Biology Geography Trip to the Western USA travelled to San Francisco, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We took 30 boys, and also visited the Hoover Dam, the Atomic Testing Centre, and Alcatraz and saw a Cirque de Soleil show. Each and every boy was amazing. They all embraced every element of the trip, and they were curious, positive and perfectly polite throughout; it was an absolute pleasure to travel with them. The boys were given guided talks at various different points, and the RGS staff supplemented this with outside teaching at almost every opportunity. It is all credit to your sons that they embrace learning whenever they can. Thank you for your support in making this trip possible.

I have just returned back to my Headmasterly ‘pad’ in School House, a bright Autumn day, having watched our U15 (29-13) and 1st XV (26-23) teams win in the second round of the Nat West trophy. Both tense games, but well deserved wins in both cases. Here’s to the next round.

Mr Honeyben, our Head of Rugby and 1st XV coach has written a short piece for me about our team’s performance at the prestigious St Joseph’s Festival.

A young 1st team squad took part in St. Joseph’s rugby festival during half term. The players showed superb effort and commitment during an intense weekend, finishing third in their group on the first day, which sent them into the plate competition on the Sunday.

After drawing a competitive and exciting game against Hurst School in the morning, RGS were narrowly beaten in their second game of the day, meaning they just missed out on the Plate final. It was a valuable experience for this team, who will be able to use this as part of their development moving forward.

You will recall that the Eton Fives Association gave us a grant to replace the roof of the Fives courts. We held an opening ceremony this afternoon for that and we were delighted that a number of dignitaries from the Fives world, including the EFA and their charitable trust were able to join us. My thanks to Mr Silvey, Master in Charge of Eton Fives, for his enthusiasm in leading a burgeoning sport.

Our Upper Sixth students are looking ahead to their university life through the preparation of their personal statements. A useful guide, on the BBC website, can be found here. I would urge parents to support staff here in chivvying their son along with his personal statement – experience tells me that some boys have a habit of waiting until the last minute before submitting them to school and then become impatient for a response, perhaps not aware that there is a back-log caused by many boys doing the same. Forty or so boys have been sitting University Admissions Tests today – I trust all went well and we look forward to hearing some good news in the coming weeks.

The new gates to Fraser Youens, the Quad, School House and Chadwick Street are now in operation.

Pedestrian Gates from Chadwick Street and Hamilton Road will be locked at 08:45, after which students will need to press the buzzer to gain access. Sixth Formers will have a lanyard and badge so that they can have some freedom during the lunch hour.

Parents are requested to use the visitors’ gate (to the right of the vehicle exit gate) and then sign in at Reception. Arrangements will be made for events. There will inevitably be some inconvenience as we bed in the new arrangements, but I trust that you all appreciate my view that the school’s site was far too open.

We are now sending the ‘Headmaster’s Letter’ to OWs. I write a ‘catch all’ letter, never more than two sides, every ten days or so to parents but also designed with staff, governors and, now, OWs in mind. We very much hope that you will enjoy reading news from where you were once educated.

Please do join us if you can on Friday 10th November for our annual Remembrance Service. Hopefully the sun will indeed shine on the righteous and we will be able to hold the service outdoors. The service, consisting of a short address, hymn accompanied by school orchestra, readings and a two-minute silence, commences at 10:45, with coffee in the Queen’s Hall afterwards. I hope that all boys will wear a poppy in the coming days.

Philip Wayne

RGS Remembrance Service: Friday 10 November 2017

To OWs and Friends of the Royal Grammar School

You are cordially invited to join us for our

Annual Service of Remembrance

and observation of the two minutes’ silence


Friday, 10 November 2017

in the Quadrangle

10.45am – 11.15am

Tea & Coffee will be served in the Queen’s Hall after the service

11.15 – 12.15

(Please arrive by 10.40am)

Please note:

There will be no car parking on the school site.

In order to get the boys into position, it is essential that all visitors enter the school grounds via the glazed doors facing Amersham Road.

The viewing area for visitors will be in the lower Quadrangle area.

If the weather is inclement, the ceremony will take place in the Queen’s Hall.

OW Howard Jones on the One Show tonight

Do you remember ‘What is Love?’, ‘New Song’, ‘Hide and Seek’?

We were delighted to welcome Howard to school in the spring term. He is an OW, who is still very interested in the work of RGS and its students. He shared many happy memories of his own. Howard is working on a new album and came back to RGS to be filmed for ‘The One Show’, performing ‘New Song’ in the Queen’s Hall to an audience of our musicians. The presenter, Carrie Grant, also spent the day with us.

Howard will feature on ‘The One Show’ tonight presented by Alex Jones and joined by comedian Katherine Ryan. The programme will be available shortly after the broadcast.

Jazz in the Quad: Sunday 2 July 2017

You are warmly invited to this year’s ‘Jazz in the Quad’, on Sunday 2 July 2017, to be held in the Main Quadrangle, starting at 5.00pm. As always, the various jazz bands of the school will provide the backbone to the musical feast that is promised, with contributions from the First Wind Band, Singers Ltd, The Trad Jazz Band, and assorted groups, including the Dave Wilmott All Stars Staff Band! All welcome, very family friendly and informal!

Come rain or shine the Friends of Music will be running a superb barbecue and a cash bar selling Pimms, wine, beer and soft drinks. Don’t forget to bring rugs and chairs to sit on, and please note the early starting time of 5.00pm. – we always finish about 9.00pm, before the evening chill sets in.

Further information on ordering tickets will be published nearer to the time.

Duncan Moore Cricket Match: 29 June 2017

OWs are warmly invited to attend the annual Duncan Moore Cricket Match on Thursday 29th June at 2.00pm.

Duncan was a very talented RGS cricketer who played at County level. He was in the same year group as Luke Donald.

Each season several cricketers including those who played cricket with Duncan compete for the Memorial Cup against the school 1st team.

If you would like to attend or play please contact OW David Stone via the form below