Annual OW Dinner 29 September 2018

The Old Wycombiensians’ Club and Royal Grammar School request the pleasure of your company at the Old Wycombiensians’ Club Annual Dinner on Saturday 29 September 2018 at 19:30

The event will also be an occasion for RGS Old Boys to celebrate RGS Rugby Centenary in the company of fellow OWs. Partners are warmly invited to this event.

You can purchase tickets by cash or cheque – booking-form-Sept2018

RGS Celebrate Loud Tie Day in memory of Alan Yeates

Since the sad loss of Alan Yeates, we’ve had a number of OWs and families get in touch with us to ask how the School is intending to remember him and how they may contribute.

We have discussed this with Mrs Yeates and have decided on the following things we would like to do:

  1. Refurbish Alan’s teaching room in the John Prior Languages Building (Alan had occupied this room from the time it was built in the 1990’s) and name the room in his honour
  2. Put up a bench near the cricket pavilion, remembering the many happy hours he gave to the sport
  3. Plant a tree next to the Languages Building to improve the environment, something Alan was always keen to do for both boys and staff
  4. Donate any monies remaining to MacMillan Cancer Support who helped both Alan and his family

To this end, we are also having a Loud Tie Day on Wednesday 25th April.  On this day all boys are asked to wear the loudest tie they can find or borrow in honour of a man who had a collection of over 300 very impressive ties.

If you would like to donate to a lasting memorial for Alan Yeates to mark his 36 years at RGS, these are the ways in which you can do it:

  1. Cheque – payable to Royal Grammar School, please write ALAN YEATES on the back of the cheque
  2. Bank transfer – account details are

Bank                                      HSBC
Sort code                             40-24-17
Account number              42049481
Please put “Alan Yeates” in the reference field

Mrs Yeates and her sons, Jonathan and William, have donated a cup which will be awarded at Senior Prizegiving as the ‘Alan Yeates Senior Cup for Commitment to Modern Languages’.  We are also very grateful to the Wilson family who have donated a cup to be awarded at Junior Prize Giving as the ‘Alan Yeates Junior Cup for Commitment to Modern Languages’.

Philip Wayne

Headmaster’s Letter to Parents and OWs

Dear Parent and OWs

Many thanks for the messages of support to the School during our need to close RGS early last Thursday and fully on Friday.

March 1st has a particular significance for children in Year 6 and their parents as it is ‘National Offer Day’. We have just sent out our 192 packs to local boys who have qualified for a grammar school and have secured a place at RGS. We will look forward to welcoming brothers of boys already here, no doubt some sons of OWs and a large number of new families to the school. We will have a very long waiting list again, this year. We have also seen an increase in applications for Year 7 boarding places, for which there is no catchment area; boarding has a unique capacity to shape the lives of young people and it very pleasing that we have maintained a very strong boarding tradition at RGS.

I’m very pleased that the Council has given approval for traffic calming measures to be installed in Hamilton Road, which will make the crossing backwards and forwards to car parks, rugby and hockey pitches that much safer. I will give an update about timescales etc. when I have further news.

This week is a busy one. Around 90 of our Lower Sixth boys have been joining their counterparts at Wycombe Abbey School for a Management Conference. This was a special year in that it is a celebration of 25 years of collaboration between the two schools. A state/independent school liaison would probably have raised an eyebrow or two in those days (in both sectors) so it was particularly innovative at the time and has continued thanks to the commitment of staff in both schools to develop their students’ skills for the adult world.

The Sportsman’s Dinner takes place tonight. We are all looking forward to the evening. It will be compered, as ever, by Barry Williams (he takes NO prisoners!), who will be introducing our guest speaker, Gareth Edwards. The evening will be raising money for rugby at RGS, in particular the Senior Tour to Chile and Argentina in the summer.
A Junior Rugby Tour takes place at the weekend – the U14s will be staying in Sussex with two games v Seaford College and Worthing RFC sandwiching a day in Brighton with volleyball and mini golf tournaments (plus seaside recreation time!). Good luck to our U14s in their first RGS tour.

Many thanks for the generous donations to Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of Alan Yeates. I will let you have a final total later, but your generosity has currently raised over £2,000. I will be writing to you soon requesting your support for a more permanent memorial to his memory.

On Saturday, 27 of our lads will be heading to Toulouse for our Work Experience exchange visit. Another long standing RGS tradition, this is an excellent opportunity for our students and those of Lycée Victor Hugo to gain an insight into working life in our respective countries as well as honing their skills in native languages.

As I have said on a number of occasions, I have been very pleased with my choice of career which has been ‘crowned’ (apologies!) with the superb opportunity that is leading RGS. It is a great pity that so many organisations, many of whom should be supporting the profession, pump out only the bad news about teaching. Not surprising, therefore, that recruitment of teachers is a challenge. There is a slight bucking of the trend in this area thanks, in part, to the excellent work of the Astra Alliance – a teaching school, in which we are a partner. We have just signed up six graduate trainees for next year, who will undertake their training with us at RGS, as well as spending a shorter placement in a non-selective school for breadth of experience. The Astra Alliance still has some vacancies and I would always recommend teaching for someone with other ‘life experience’ (OWs and parents) to consider if a change of career is on the cards. Please see for more details. The Deputy Headmaster, Alex Wallace, oversees this at RGS, so you could, if you prefer have an informal chat with him.

Please do come and support our production of ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller which is being performed on Thursday 22 – Saturday 24 March. It features actors and actresses from RGS and Wycombe High School. Further details are available.

May I draw the attention of Lower Sixth parents to the letters regarding the International University Fair at Wycombe Abbey and the extra places available at the Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference.

As you will be aware, we have tightened up considerably on attendance and the processes to manage it. The Sport and PE Department have set out very clear rules regarding attendance and participation in PE and Games. Please read the letter.
Please read an excellent account below from Adam Hart about the recent Mathematics trip to Japan: ‘‘Our urban adventure to Japan has been an exhilarating experience for each and every one of us, including the teachers! We travelled throughout Japan, trying to create new memories in various forms, from trying Japanese delicacies, to their curious beverages from the many vending machines scattered across the city. We voyaged across Tokyo from the peaceful haven of Hamarikyu Gardens, to the breath-taking chaos of the Shibuya Crossing. We had packed so many amazing opportunities into this trip and we truly got to know Tokyo and its inhabitants. We learnt so much about the world around us, and it wasn’t just maths! We discovered the tranquillity of the ancient shrines at the various temples and the true beauty of nature and its awe-inspiring creations. We learnt of the business of the urbanised cities including the ridiculously long queues at the sky tree tower, to the speedy bullet train to and from the ancient shrine at Nikko. Just in case we were ever unoccupied, there were a variety of challenges set by our staff, such as: origami competitions, maths puzzles & riddles, and ancient Japanese kuakahki puzzles. Overall, we had a magnificent time and I would definitely recommend it.’’

During half term three Y12 students completed an engineering placement with Martin Baker, a company which builds ejection and crashworthy seats for aeroplanes. Vihaan Konganda and Tom Chamberlain have written about their fascinating experience.

Laurie Gawne has earned a place on the Bucks County team for the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Leeds on 17th March. Tremendous achievement, well-deserved! During Half Term Ishaan Bharal competed in the WAKO British Open 2018. This is a kickboxing tournament involving competitors from across Europe. Ishaan represented GB in the Under 57kg category. Ishaan was unfortunate to face the eventual champion, from Hungary, in the first round of competition.
Sammy Cormack-Repath (Year 8) is playing Icarus in the semi-staged premiere of Will Todd’s ‘If I Had Wings’ at the Royal Albert Hall this coming Sunday.

Please do always let the School know if your son is excelling at something outside school. I am always pleased to share good news.

Philip Wayne

Headmaster’s Letter to Parents and OWs

I trust you all had a good half term break. We return to a very short but intensive five and a half week run up to the Easter holiday.

As you will be aware the school community mourned the loss of a serving teacher and a recently left student in the first half of the spring term. Alan Yeates’ funeral service at St Margaret’s, Tylers Green, was a fitting tribute with a congregation of 450 packing the church, marquee and church hall. Jordan Coupland, who was killed in a car crash on New Year’s Day, was remembered in a memorial ceremony in the Queen’s Hall, attended by over 400. In both cases, our boys participated in these sad occasions in a manner which made all staff incredibly proud.

We had two trips out during the holiday and, as ever, our students were commended by fellow travellers and other hotel guests for their being great ambassadors for RGS. Please see below for the report of the ski trip.

Governors play an important role in the life of the school; they are the non-executive directors of the Academy. Our Governors hold the Headmaster to account as well as offering exceptional levels of support and expertise in the running of what is both a large school responsible for the education of your son, a sizeable business and employer which is the custodian of many millions of pounds of public money. You may remember that you received a letter before half term to inform you that we have a vacancy for a parent governor. Please see the LINK as a reminder.

The Board of Governors produce an annual report each year on the working of the Academy (although we use ‘School’ in our daily life, ‘academy’ is the legal entity for a state funded, independent school). We all feel that it is a good idea to share the report with you.

Reporting from Mr Eve, Assistant Head
‘Parents of boys in Years 7, 8 and 10 will notice some changes to the format of their son’s progress grades when they receive their tutor reports shortly after half term. The system of two effort grades – one for engagement in class and one for homework – has been replaced by a single Attitude to Learning grade that takes a holistic view of a pupil’s approach to his studies, and is designed to flag up any concerns more clearly. The Attitude to Learning grades are in the format of letters (O for outstanding, V for very good, G for good, S for some concerns and P for poor/serious concerns). They will be used for all year groups from now on and will end the current system of switching between letter and number grades for effort, depending on which year group your son is in.

In addition, boys in Years 7-9 who are awarded one of the bottom two grades for Attainment (1 or 2) or for Attitude to Learning (S or P) will receive a brief explanatory comment from the teacher on their progress card. We hope this will improve communication between the School and parents, and help you to understand where problems lie.’

Bat Oar Ball/Sportsman’s Dinner/RGS Golf Day
The Bar Oar Ball was a very well attended event – over 350 eating, drinking, being (very, in some cases) merry and spending generously. The ball raised over £12,000, which will go to benefit all sports in the school. Although I refer to £Ms in my paragraph about the governors’ report, the government grant is not intended to provide state school students with the sporting excellence we strive for at RGS. Your help is, therefore, important but very much appreciated. The Sportsman’s Dinner takes place on 8 March. Tickets are selling like hot cakes, as ever, so please do order soon to avoid disappointment. For those who enjoy golf, there is an RGS Golf Day on 18 May. I’ll remind you nearer the time, but here is the link. I don’t play golf myself, but I’ll see you at the 19th hole!

All The World’s a Stage
This is the year of the play, rather than the musical. I am delighted to invite you all to see our performance of The Crucible, by Arthur Miller on 22nd, 23rd or 24th March. This looks to be an excellent production, performed ‘in the round’, so tickets will be limited. Please look out for further information in forthcoming school comms.

I was very pleased to watch three of our boys, James Guild, Tom George and Othy Caroe who performed in the Wycombe High School production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. It was an excellent show with a strong cast from Wycombe High School being well supported by our chaps.

Mindfulness Course for Parents: From Mr Zair
‘Calling all RGS parents! This is a fantastic opportunity to study mindfulness on an 8 week course run at RGS in the summer term. This course will be run in a similar style to a Pilates or yoga class with lots of practice and discussion, and it will certainly not be a therapy group. To facilitate work and traffic, the course will run from 7– 8.30pm. The aim will be to develop particular mindfulness tools and skills to manage professional and personal challenges such as deadlines and stress, and generally help get the most out of life. The course cost is heavily reduced at £150 and will begin on April 30th, with four sessions either side of half term. For more information or to register your interest please email’

CCF Student Leadership: From Mr Rose
‘On Sunday 4 February, 38 Year 11 boys and five staff assembled for the annual RGS CCF Contingent PJNCO Cadre. The ‘Cadre’ is a selection board designed to test the leadership potential of the attending Year 11 cadets by putting them through a series of taxing cerebral and physical challenges. These included a planning exercise, group discussions, six command tasks, interviews and a school run. The field of candidates was strong and the highest scoring cadet was Toko Avaliani from the Army Section, closely followed by Cadet George Cook (Army) in second and Oliver Moss (RAF) in third. As the winner of the day, Toko is guaranteed promotion to Cadet Lance-Corporal and received the coveted ‘Youens VC Leadership Trophy’ (pictured attached – Cadet Avaliani receives the Youens VC Leadership Trophy from Captain Rose).’

I am delighted to announce that Ben Hinves (Year 12) came 18th in the J18 GB rowing trials. This is a fantastic result not only because of Ben’s own talent in the sport, but also given that he was racing against top athletes from large concerns, both clubs and schools. We also had success of another RGS boy at GB Rowing Trials last weekend in Lincolnshire. Seth O’Connor trialled for the J16s and came 9th in the single on Saturday and then 3rd in the double on Sunday. We hope that he will qualify for the GB Sculling Camp later in the year. Well done to both boys!

Waitrose Tokens
If you shop at Waitrose, Handy Cross, please put some green tokens in the RGS section of their charity collection, this month. Waitrose will convert the tokens into money to go to our rowing club to assist with updating the fleet.

Bridges Competition: From Mr Marshall
‘As part of the Year 8 Engineering module, students work as part of a team of four to design and build a bridge capable of traversing a large expanse and of supporting a given weight. Students are limited to only a set number of pieces of balsa wood, dowel and other modelling materials and the completed bridge is tested to destruction. Teams are judged not only on their actual bridge but also on their ability to work productively as a team and in their application of the technical engineering principles, particularly triangulation, in their bridge design.’

Ski Trip: Robert O’Connell (Year 8)
‘The RGS Ski Trip to Pila was an exhausting yet once in a lifetime experience. The accommodation, food and after-ski activities were amazing and well worth the long journey to and from the Aosta Valley. Each day brought new experiences, whether it was food I hadn’t tried before or different slopes and activities to try. All of the Interski and RGS staff were very helpful and never let you get bored. I really enjoyed the trip and would definitely do it again.’

Philip Wayne

FIH appoints OW Jon Wyatt as Sport and Development Director


The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the appointment of OW Jon Wyatt as Sport and Development Director, who will take up his position in the FIH Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in April.

The Olympian earned 195 caps for England and Great Britain during a successful career in which he captained both teams.

Jon participated in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics before captaining Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 Games. He also took part in two World Cups (Utrecht 1998 and Kuala Lumpur 2002), four Hockey Champions Trophies (Berlin 1995, Brisbane 1999, Amstelveen 2000 and Rotterdam 2001), two European Championships, winning a bronze medal on both occasions (Dublin 1995 and Padova 1999) and two Commonwealth Games, in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 where he won bronze, and in Manchester in 2002. At club level he also captained Reading Hockey Club to a European Club Champions Cup victory in 2003.

Speaking about his move to the FIH, Jon said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to join the FIH at this incredibly exciting time for the sport. Not many people have the chance to combine their passion for the sport they love with the professional skills they have developed. I’m really looking forward to helping grow hockey across the world at all levels.”

Headmaster’s Letter to Parents and OWs


We have made a busy start to the new calendar year, with a pleasing number of successful events, not in any particular order.

RGS’s Got Talent
It will resonate with many of you that I arrived late for RGS’s Got Talent as my car acquires ‘Hackney Carriage’ status (without the metre) at the weekend. We all enjoyed a range of ‘acts’ from solo singers, Rubik Cubes being ‘done’ in record time (including blindfolded), magic tricks and bands. The winner was ‘Paradigm’ consisting of Michael Cary, Shaan Sagoo and Elliot Whitehouse with Fourtune (nice play on words!) in second place and Rubin Sanghera in third. The compere for the evening was Ajay Patel and the experience was enhanced by good sound and lighting designed by Matt Shraga and Harry Kettle. My thanks to the Parents Association @RGSPA who arranged the event to raise funds for the refurbishment of our Drama Studio. Their latest newsletter is here and gives dates of forthcoming events, which I encourage you to support.

Youth Speaks
The Rotary Club arrange a national public speaking competition. We had excellent representation across the year groups and I am delighted to announce that our Year 11 team were the winners. Dominic Martin delivered an impressive speech on the subject of ‘Grief’, suggesting that our culture does not grieve well and exploring the physiological symptoms of grief. He was accompanied by Rohan Chopra as Chair, and Ayush Sanghavi as Vote of Thanks. They go through to the next round on 1 February in Marlow so I’ll keep you informed. Special mention was made of Peter Houston (Lower 6th) who delivered a particularly impressive speech: ‘Boys in close harmony – an endangered species?’ My congratulations to all concerned.

There have been a number of rugby fixtures with a competitive set of results against Solihull (four wins and three losses). The photograph above is of the jubilant U14As following a 24-5 win last Saturday. The other photograph is the squad for the Chile/Argentina tour all wearing their very smart tour blazers and ties. Congratulations to Henry Chilcott and James Tunney for consistently representing Wasps U18s with much success. Hockey The season is well underway and I will keep you up to date as the year progresses. Have a read of some Hockey News. Maths Four of our boys have been sufficiently successful in the Senior Maths Challenge (110,000 entrants, nationally) to qualify (Harry Walden and Harry Kettle) and qualify with distinction (Chris Finn and Sean Cohen) to sit the British Mathematical Olympiad. There were 1,792 students who entered this award of whom the top 25% achieved a Distinction. Chris Finn was one of the top 55 students who was awarded a medal. Very impressive.

I am pleased to announce that three of our year U6th Physics students (Ibrahim Sajid, George Mercer and Harry Kettle) achieved a Gold Award in Round 1 of the Physics A2 Olympiad This places them in the top 10% of the students that entered the competition.

Bat Oar Ball/Sportsman’s Dinner
We are looking forward to the Bat Oar Ball next Saturday. A complete sell-out, it promises not only to be a fun evening but also to raise funds for all sports at the school. As I have said on many occasions, our state grant would not stretch to facilitate the sporting opportunities, which are a significant part of life at RGS. The Sportsman’s Dinner takes place on 8 March. This is also a very popular event with Old Boys, former parents and those currently associated with RGS and will, like the Bat Oar Ball, sell out quickly. Please do look out for the flyers and book your tickets by return.

National Youth Orchestra
Flicking through the radio channels whilst driving, a week or two ago, my finger hovered (as it often did in my more musical days) over the Radio 3 selector. I pressed it, gingerly, to hear a performance of ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, not one of my top ten but, I perceived it to be a vibrant youthful rendition which warranted further listening. I was proud of two things: firstly that I had recognised the youthful vibrancy as it was in actual fact the National Youth Orchestra performing, and secondly and principally that our own Daniel Kimberley (Year 11) was one of the percussionists. Well done, Daniel! The only dampener was the presenter who gave a doom and gloom message about the poor provision of music in state schools. As I have said more times than I can count, it need not be this way – with the right musical leadership, keen students and supportive parents it is very possible to have very high-quality music in state schools, as we well know at RGS!

Careers on the move
At RGS we highly value Careers Education with Ms Sowah as Director of HE and Careers. Her department has now moved to the two rooms in The Space and there are large signs to ensure that boys do not miss it! I thought that it might be helpful to give an update on some aspects of the work taking place to prepare your sons for their futures.

Congratulations to the fourteen boys from RGS who have received offers from Oxford and Cambridge. This is an impressive 30% of (a slightly smaller field than usual) this year’s applicants. The offers received were made across a range of subjects: Engineering, Music, Mathematics, English Language and Literature, Maths and Computer Science, Physics, Biochemistry, French and German, Biological Sciences, Material Science, Economics and Management. This reflects the wide-range of subject areas in which our candidates impressed interviewers. To earn a place at these leading universities is an exceptional accomplishment and testament to the hard work and commitment of our applicants and their teachers.

For some, an impetuous decision to apply to Oxford and Cambridge it often more successful if discussions are held when a boy is younger. This is not to put undue pressure on a student but rather to broaden his horizons. We are now starting to look at ways in which younger boys may benefit from some aspirational work.

For Sixth Formers there is a UK University/Careers Fair on 2 March – see here for details and the Wycombe Management Conference which we jointly run with Wycombe Abbey School. The programme is here. These are two high-profile events but I would urge all students to keep an ear out for the regular notices in assembly for symposiums, career talks, lectures, etc, which run throughout the year.

Early indications are very positive following the mock exams. Year 11 results are particularly pleasing and represent a step-change from a few years of decline. One of my first missions was to ask staff to really push Years 7-9 and it is pleasing to see that the work of teachers and the dedication of the boys is really starting to promise an even higher number of the very highest grades. The Year 11 Parents’ Evening for parents and boys takes place on Monday 5 February. The booking software tells us that there will be a very high turnout (it is a formal school occasion so boys should be in their full school uniform). This is an excellent opportunity to find out from your son’s teacher what needs to be done to nail the highest possible grades. I would also draw your attention to the Easter Revision Courses which run at RGS in the Easter Holidays. They are run commercially and are open to GCSE and A level candidates from all schools. There will, of course, be ‘in house’ revision sessions run by departments for our own boys as the term progresses. Please do encourage your son to avail himself of every opportunity – one source of frustration for teachers is that those who need the extra help are often the last to seek it. In light of the new Progress 8 League Tables being published this week, may I just remind you that, as last year’s Year 11 sat IGCSE for both English Language and Literature, our Progress 8 measure is meaningless. Although IGCSEs are common in the independent sector, those schools are not subject to accountability measures. Do not be alarmed. See here for my fuller explanation.

Philip Wayne

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