Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe

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The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe
Motto Schola Regia Grammatica
Established 1552
Type Selective grammar school
Headmaster Roy Page
Location Amersham Road
High Wycombe
HP13 6QT
England Coordinates: 51°38′28″N 0°44′20″W / 51.64109°N 0.73879°W / 51.64109; -0.73879
DfE URN 136484 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Staff c. 100
Students 1374
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Colours              Maroon, Blue, Green
Former pupils Old Wycombiensians

The Royal Grammar School High Wycombe (RGS or RGSHW for short) is a selective boys grammar school situated in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. As a state school it does not charge fees for students to attend, but they must pass an entrance exam (The 11+). It bears many traditions - for example, the headmaster and deputy headmasters often wear academic gowns. In February 2011 the school became an Academy.[1]

Established by Royal Charter in 1562 (though originally established as a school in 1550), it is situated on Amersham Hill to the north of the town and has a capacity of about 1450 boys aged between 11 and 19. The school has boarding facilities and is a DfES-designated Language College. In 2007 it was also awarded the privilege of becoming a Mathematics and ICT College due to its outstandingly high performance in these areas which led to Ofsted recommendation.[2] It is highly regarded by bodies such as OFSTED, which gave it a Grade 1 ranking in every area of its 2006 inspection,[3] and it regularly achieves high rankings on a country-wide scale for GCSE and A-level results.[4]

The current Headmaster is Mr. Roy Page (long term master at the school, former Senior Deputy Headmaster, then former Acting Headmaster), who has held the post since Easter 2006, succeeding Timothy Dingle. In March 2014 Roy Page announced his intention to retire from the RGS at the end of August 2015 after 43 years of service to the school. He is to be succeeded by Philip Wayne Headmaster of Chesham Grammar School


The school has over 120 classrooms, two sports gyms, a large multi-purpose hall (named "the Queen's Hall"), several ICT rooms with computers for boys use, several art workshops and technology labs, an interactive library, two large sports fields, an indoor swimming pool, sports hall, a canteen, modern language block and a three floor science block.

As a Language College, it is compulsory for boys to study French until GCSE. Other modern language subjects include Spanish and German as the main choices. In addition, boys have the opportunity to study Japanese, Russian, Swedish, Chinese-Mandarin, Italian, Latin and Ancient Greek.

A music centre was opened in late 2004, improving the school's music facilities, including the ability to now offer A Level boys the subject Music Technology.

RGS High Wycombe is also recognised as a top sporting school. Amongst the many extracurricular activities, boys can participate in the on-site Combined Cadet Force, the Public Speaking Society, music and orchestras, drama, social service, fencing, and a very large variety of sports. The school has two very large playing fields for its sporting use. The RGS also has its own .22 25 yard indoor range which is used by the shooting team of the school.

In Winter 2010, building work started on Phase I of the Shaping Our Destiny campaign, a large-scale plan produced by the school's senior staff and board of governours to expand and renovate existing facilities. Phase I was completed in June 2011, and the new Sixth Form Mezzanine will open for use in the 2011/12 school year. The whole campaign aims to add Extra Maths classrooms, improve Sixth Form study facilities and school changing rooms, add more toilets and expand the Fitness/gym suite.[5]


Originally established by the mayor and burgesses of the town in 1550 the school received Royal charter in 1562. It was based in the buildings of the former Hospital of St John the Baptist in the town centre until 1883. After the old hospital was demolished, the school was moved to new buildings nearby for a short time, and was moved to its current location in 1915. T. S. Eliot taught at the school during this time.

The school expanded greatly under the headmastership of ER ("Boss") Tucker (head from 1933 to 1964) and celebrated the 400th anniversary of its Royal Charter in 1962 with a visit from the Queen. To commemorate the visit, the school's main hall became Queen's Hall and bore an engraving to mark the occasion. In 1997 a new building was erected (the Language Block) entirely dedicated to the teaching of languages, which was opened by the Duchess of Gloucester.

In 2001, a past Headmaster Tim Dingle began an "Education Excellence" campaign to raise money for the school, as it would otherwise suffer serious cutbacks in its teaching quality. He aimed to raise £1 million, and this goal has since been passed, with a significant portion of the money being donated by various benefactors and alumni, as well as parents; the remainder from the installation of soft drink and snack vending machines and the sale of advertising space on corridor walls inside the school.

There are several Royal Grammar School sites in the UK, of which High Wycombe, Colchester, Clitheroe and Lancaster have maintained their grammar school status, whilst Guildford, Newcastle upon Tyne and Worcester are now privately funded, independent schools.


In order to gain entry to the school, pupils from primary schools in the local area are invited to do an entrance exam, the 11+. Entry to a grammar school usually requires a score of 121/141, though pupils who gain scores of 117 and above are invited to appeal their case. RGS admits 192 day boys each year and 10 boarding boys. Entry for boarding is somewhat different, with the school creating its own entry test. Prospective boys who did not take the 11+ (e.g. those who join in later years or those who come from different counties or countries not taking the 11+) also take the school's own entry test.


Fraser Youens Boarding House opened in September 1999.[6] It incorporates en-suite bedrooms, cutting-edge communication technology, three resident Housemasters and a committee of House Tutors. It has room for 70 resident boys, who stay throughout the week and return home for weekends (it is possible to stay weekends as well, if desired). This facility enables students to attend RGS, who would otherwise be unable to: students from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya and Singapore reside in Fraser Youens. The house is named after alumni Edward Fraser and Frederick Youens, both of whom are war heroes and winners of the Victoria Cross.

Although there is no fee to attend the main school, boarding students pay a termly fee, which is about £3400 (£3800 for full boarding) as of September 2008. In some cases, boys may be awarded scholarships if they cannot afford this fee but nevertheless wish to attend the school and are too far away.

Public controversies[edit]

In 2004 the school was at the centre of a debate based around the qualifications required to teach. Dr David Wolfe, a physics teacher with a PhD and emeritus professor of Physics at the University of New Mexico, had been working as a school teacher for the maximum time allowed without having Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), one requirement of which was a grade C or higher in GCSE mathematics, or an equivalent qualification. Wolfe refused to take the GCSE, saying that at 65 he was "too old for that sort of thing", even though in his opinion he could easily pass it. The problems began when, despite an official stance of "flexibility" by the Department for Education and Skills with regards to equivalent qualifications, correspondence sent to the school was more bureaucratic. However, after much media attention (during which time the DfES announced that the mathematics GCSE was not in fact a concrete requirement) Wolfe was told that he could obtain QTS by submitting to a short teaching assessment, and he continued to teach at the school until 2006.[7]

In February 2006, Timothy Dingle (then Headmaster) appeared in a double-page Daily Mail article, alleging he led "a fantasy life fuelled by sex and drugs".[8] Dingle, already scheduled to leave in April 2006, was claimed to have had various extramarital affairs and false identities. It was also alleged that he had been a user of cocaine and cannabis, the latter confiscated from pupils at his school where Dingle had been a hard-line anti-drugs advocate, vociferously opposing the government's at the time proposed declassification of cannabis, and regularly speaking on Christian morality at his school.

A report on the drug claims was published by independent investigation team in March 2006 and was passed to the governors of the Royal Grammar School for scrutiny. Dingle was forced to resign from his post at St. George's School, Buenos Aires, which he was due to take up after Easter 2006.[9] He was later sacked from his post at the Royal Grammar School by the school governors, for "gross misconduct".[10] The governors did state that there was no evidence to support the claim that he had used cannabis confiscated from pupils.[11]

In February 2008, Dingle was told at a hearing in Birmingham by the General Teaching Council that he was banned from teaching for two years after being found guilty of "unacceptable professional conduct".[12]


The RGS SLST (Stage Lighting and Sound Team) run School assemblies, plays and functions, and may be joined by boys at or after, Academic Year 9. Kit purchases are primarily funded by the RGS PA.[13] The team can be dated back to 1994,[14] and maintains its own website.

The CCF (Combined Cadet Force) has Navy, Army and RAF sections open for boys in KS4 & 5 (Years 10 and above) where they learn new skills such as field-craft, map and compass, drill, leadership and first aid, while also taking part in activities such as weapon handling, sailing, and flying. It forms a part of a larger range of options (called TAA - or Thursday Afternoon Activities) that these year groups can choose to do during time-tabled-in free time on Thursday Afternoons, including sports, clubs, internal and external projects.


RGS has a strong sporting tradition, especially in rugby football. Its alumni founded the town's local rugby club High Wycombe RUFC, originally known as Old Wycombiensians FC.[15] Sporting alumni include golfer Luke Donald, 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson and 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens winner Nick Beal.

Notable alumni[edit]

Alumni of the RGS are known as Old Wycombiensians, or OWs. The Old Wycombiensians' Committee hosts an annual reunion dinner for OWs at the RGS.

Popular culture[edit]

In 2001, the school was used as one of the sets in the 2001 thriller film The Hole, as a county prison. Various scenes were also filmed inside the school's old boarding house.

Later, in 2003, the school was thrown back into history when it served as the location for two seasons of the television series That'll Teach 'em for Channel 4. The school was re-branded as "King's Grammar School" and took thirty sixteen-year-olds for a summer of 50's style boarding school education. This first series was nominated for a BAFTA. The second series saw thirty sixteen-year-olds of lesser academic achievement experience 60's style Secondary Modern School education; in this case the school was re-branded "Hope Green Secondary Modern". However, different parts of the school were used in each series, giving the impression that the school used in the second series was not that used in the first.

On 1 May 2009 BBC TV show Top Gear recorded at the school. They filmed in "the Quad" (teacher's car park) against the old main building and clock tower for a segment where Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were undertaking the challenge, Finding the perfect car for 17-year-olds.[16] Clarkson used a Volvo estate, Hammond a Hyundai S-Coupe and May a Volkswagen Golf. The episode was aired in June 2009.[17]

Two years later, the corridors of the same building appeared in the opening and closing scenes of the BBC Documentary series, Our War, in which current history teacher and CCF leader Bjorn Rose talks about the tragic loss of comrade Chris Gray during his service for the British Army in Afghanistan.[18]

Photographic time line[edit]

  • School Photos from the years 1947 to 1956 - includes identifications of boys and masters in the group photos. Also covered are scans from Grey Books, Programmes for the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera performances 1948–1963, Prospectae, Sporting photographs, The CCF, contributions from Old Boys and other miscellanea.
  • School Photos from 1958 to 1967 - includes identifications of boys and masters in the following group photos: 1958 Senior, 1958 Junior, 1960 Senior, 1962 Senior, 1962 Junior, 1964 Senior, 1964 Senior, 1964 Middle, 1964 Junior, 1967 Senior. Plus photos of rugby teams, scans of 1960s Grey Books, etc.

The Gilbert and Sullivan operas[edit]

In 1947 Bernarr Rainbow directed the first of the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy operas to be performed at the school and these continue up until recent times.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Open academies map and schools submitting applications". Department for Education. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "2006 OFSTED Report" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "2006 OFSTED Report".  Grade 1 is "outstanding".
  4. ^ "BBC Report". BBC News. 2 November 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "RGS - Shaping Our Destiny building plans, November 2010" (PDF). 
  6. ^ "Boarding". 
  7. ^ "Wolfe report from BBC". BBC News. 12 October 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010.  "BBC Video". BBC News. 12 October 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "Site dedicated to Dingle case". 
  9. ^ "Bucks Free Press". 
  10. ^ "Governor's response to allegations against Dingle". 
  11. ^ "BBC News on the dismissal of Tim Dingle". 27 April 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Headteacher sacked for pursuing lovers on the school webcam". Daily Mail (London). 4 March 2008. 
  13. ^ "Funding of SLST equipment through the Parents Association" (PDF). 
  14. ^ "Funding of SLST equipment through the Parents Association" (PDF). 
  15. ^ HWRUFC History
  16. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear stars in town". Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  17. ^ "BBC Two programs - Top Gear, Series 13, Episode 2". Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  18. ^ "BBC Three programmes - Our War: Ambushed". Retrieved 10 July 2011. 

External links[edit]