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 (hrm@rgshw.com) 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


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.

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


RGS OW Dinner: Saturday 30 September 2017

The Old Wycombiensians’ Club and Royal Grammar School request the pleasure of your company at the Old Wycombiensians’ Club Annual Dinner on

Saturday 30 September 2017 at 19:30


The event will be an occasion for RGS Old Boys to revisit the School, meet the Headmaster, Philip Wayne, take a tour of the grounds or just relax in the company of fellow OWs.

Tours begin at 18:30 and we request that guests are seated for dinner at 19:45

You can purchase tickets by cash or cheque

Please note that partners are warmly invited this event.

Booking Form 2017


OWs lend support to RGS Sportsman’s Dinner

RGS celebrated in style at its Annual Sportsman’s Dinner to support RGS Rugby. Some 400 guests, including parents, friends and old boys were treated to an entertaining evening.

Sean Fitzpatrick and All Black legend spoke about his life and experiences with the most successful sports team in history, which was rounded off with a haka! To which he received a standing ovation.

The Headmaster’s welcome and the presentation of representative shirts and 1stXV Captains Cap by Sean Fitzpatrick to some of the senior RGSHW players was truly special. It was amazing and humbling to see so many of our old boys in the room supporting the current crop of RGSHW players, including OW Nick Heath and now renowned rugby commentator.

Barry Williams the master of ceremonies conducted an auction with some fantastic prizes before leaving the room in stitches after his comedy set.

The school would like to thank everyone who made this event such a success.

Desert Island Discs: Kirsty Young interviews OW Jimmy Carr

Kirsty Young’s castaway this week is the comedian and television presenter OW Jimmy Carr.

Despite being dyslexic, he got good enough A levels at RGS to study at Cambridge University. In his interview he mentions two inspirational teachers who taught him here at school, Mr Tim Claye and Mr Roger File.

After graduating with a degree in Political Science, and working for a major multinational company in London, Jimmy had what he calls an ‘early midlife crisis’, during which he lost his Catholic faith and was generally unhappy.

He attended lots of therapy courses in an attempt to find out what would make him happier and eventually set out on the road to becoming a comedian.

He quickly got a reputation for his fierce work ethic, heading up annually to the Edinburgh Fringe, touring with a new show virtually every year, and hosting many a Channel 4 panel show. Click here for his interview.