Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe

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The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe
Royal Grammar School High Wycombe new crest 2018.png
Amersham Road

, ,
HP13 6QT

Coordinates51°38′28″N 0°44′20″W / 51.64109°N 0.73879°W / 51.64109; -0.73879Coordinates: 51°38′28″N 0°44′20″W / 51.64109°N 0.73879°W / 51.64109; -0.73879
TypeSelective Grammar School
MottoLatin: Schola Regia Grammatica
Established1551; 471 years ago (1551)
Maths and Computing
Department for Education URN136484 Tables
HeadmasterPhilip Wayne
Staffc. 100
Age11 to 19
Houses       St. James (Red), Sandringham (Orange), Windsor (Yellow), Buckingham (Green), Balmoral (Blue), Kensington (Indigo)
Colour(s)  White,   San Marino Approx. (#4165B3)
Former pupilsOld Wycombiensians

The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, is a selective boys' grammar school situated in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. As a state school, it does not charge fees for pupils to attend, but they must pass the 11 plus, an exam that lots of primary schools give to children to test their knowledge. In February 2011, the school became an Academy.[2]

Established by Royal Charter in 1562 (originally established as a school in 1551), it is situated on Amersham Hill to the north of the town and has a capacity of about 1,370 boys aged between 11 and 19,[1] open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 3:30pm and later for co-curricular activities. The school has boarding facilities and was a DfES-designated Language College until 2010. From 2007-2010, it was also a Mathematics and ICT College.[3] OFSTED gave it a Good ranking in its 2019 inspection.[4]


Originally established by the mayor and burgesses of the town in 1551, in the ecclesiastical premises previously acquired by Sir Edmund Peckham (c. 1495 – 1564) during the Dissolution of the Monasteries,[5] the school received its Royal charter in 1562 (which still survives today at the school's current location).[citation needed] 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.

The school expanded greatly under the headmastership of Edmund Tucker from 1933 to 1964, celebrating the 400th anniversary of its Royal Charter in 1962 with a visit from Queen Elizabeth II. 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.

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 2006, tabloid accusations against then-headmaster Timothy Dingle led to an independent investigation. The school's governors concluded that he should be dismissed for "gross misconduct", but he had already resigned to take the position of head at a private school in Argentina. Dingle did not take up the position.[6][7]

In 2016, the school made national headlines after a question set in a practice maths test by a volunteer (a retired teacher) was deemed homophobic after it stated "marriage is between one man and one woman, as God intended when he made humans male and female". The school immediately withdrew the practice test when informed of the question by students. Headmaster Philip Wayne apologised "on behalf of the whole school community of governors, staff and boys" and said the volunteer who set the question would not be returning.[8][9]


The current headmaster is Philip Wayne, who was Headmaster of Chesham Grammar School for eight years before joining RGSHW.[10] He succeeded Roy Page in September 2015.[10]


In order to gain entry to the school, pupils from primary schools in the local area are invited to do an entrance exam, the eleven-plus exam.[11] RGS admits 182 day boys each year and 10 boarding boys. Entry for boarding is somewhat different, with the school having extra requirements for applications such as interviews beyond the 11+ exam requirement.[12] 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 tests, consisting of a test in both their Mathematics and English subject abilities.[13]


Though primarily a day school, some pupils have boarded at the school since the 1800s.[14] For most of the 20th century, boarders were lodged in one of three boarding houses: School House, a purpose-built residence on the school premises, and Uplyme and Tyler's Wood, two converted private houses located near the school. In September 1999 the entire boarding facility was consolidated into the newly built Fraser Youens Boarding House.[15] It incorporates en-suite bedrooms, communication technology, three resident Housemasters and a committee of House Tutors.[16] It has room for 70 resident boys,[14] who stay throughout the week and return home for weekends. The house is named after alumni Ian Edward Fraser and Frederick Youens, who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War and First World War respectively.

Sixth form[edit]

RGS also has a sixth form, which the majority of boys in lower years will continue onto. The sixth form have their own private mezzanine within the school grounds where they can do private study.[clarification needed] All RGS boys joining the sixth form are expected to study four A Levels for the first year and then at the second year drop one or continue with all four. External students can join the school for just the sixth form but face strict entry requirements to do so, having taken eight GCSEs (grades 5–9) and achieving a grade 6 or above in seven of those (including mathematics and English).[13]

Available subjects[edit]

The following subjects are available for A Levels:[17]

  • Ancient History
  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Design and Technology
  • Economics
  • English Literature
  • French
  • Geography
  • German
  • History
  • Latin
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics (may only be taken with Mathematics)
  • Music
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Spanish
  • Sport BTEC


The school has over 120 classrooms, a large multi-purpose hall named "the Queen's Hall",[18] four 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,[19] a canteen, modern language block and a three floor science block.

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. Amongst the many extracurricular activities, boys can participate in the on-site Combined Cadet Force,[20] 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 the Shaping Our Destiny campaign, a large-scale plan produced by the school's senior staff and board of governors to expand and renovate existing facilities. Phase I was completed in June 2011, and the new Sixth Form Mezzanine opened in 2012. The whole campaign added extra maths classrooms, improved Sixth Form study facilities and school changing rooms, added more toilets and expanded the fitness/gym suite.

In 2013, planning permission for an All Weather Pitch was granted, and in 2014, work began raising £1m to fund the creation of this 3G floodlit pitch,[21] a new grass pitch, which was completed in April 2016,[22] and also to renovate the 100-year-old Main Block classrooms. As of November 2019, 8 classrooms in the Main Block have been renovated, and another has been converted into the 'Student Hub'. So far, four History, three English and one Geography classrooms have been renovated; all complete with a large flat-screen, sliding whiteboard panels, automatic lights, economical lights, a computer for the teacher, new carpeting and paint, and new furniture.[citation needed]


Stage Lighting and Sound Team[edit]


The Stage Lighting and Sound Team (SLST) may be joined by boys at or after, Academic Year 9.[23] Kit purchases are primarily funded by the RGS PA.[24] The team is a contributor to the school's drama scene with the annual school production, such as the March 2019 production of West Side Story.[citation needed] They have their own YouTube channel.[25]

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

The Combined Cadet Force has Navy, Army and RAF sections open for boys in KS4 & 5 (Years 10 and above) where they learn 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.[20]


RGS has a selection of bands, choirs, orchestras, and a number of smaller groups, all rehearsing on a regular basis.[26] Senior groups have featured at the National Festival of Music for Youth having been the National Youth Choir of the Year in 2014.[27]

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. These continued until at least 1976.[28]


Its alumni founded the town's local rugby club High Wycombe RUFC, originally known as Old Wycombiensians FC.[29] Sporting alumni include golfer Luke Donald,[30] 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson,[31] 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens winner Nick Beal.,[32] 400 metres hurdles athlete Martin Gillingham, England Hockey Captain Jon Wyatt, and the cricketers Phil Newport and Saif Zaib.


The school has an active rowing club called the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe Boat Club which is based on the River Thames at the Longridge Activity Centre, Quarry Wood Road. The club is affiliated to British Rowing (Boat code HWG) and produced two junior national champion crews at the 2014 British Rowing Junior Championships.[33][34]



Starting in the 2016-17 academic year, the RGS has launched a houses system with the naming scheme of royal houses: (St. James (Red), Sandringham (Orange), Windsor (Yellow), Buckingham (Green), Balmoral (Blue), Kensington (Indigo)).[35] There are 6 houses, and each house has one form from every year in the school with Heads and Deputy Heads chosen from the 6th form for each house. Each year the RGS will also hold a school-wide sports day where all can compete to earn points for their house.[36]

Notable alumni and teachers[edit]

Alumni of the RGS are known as Old Wycombiensians, or OWs, and include Chris Grayling,[37] former UK Secretary of State for Transport, the singers Ian Dury and Howard Jones,[38] the comedian Jimmy Carr[11] and the philosopher Roger Scruton.[39] The Old Wycombiensians' Committee hosts an annual reunion dinner for Old Wycombiensians at the RGS. Notable sporting alumni include former England rugby union player Matt Dawson and sprinter Martin Gillingham.

T. S. Eliot taught for a term at the school in the autumn of 1915.[40]

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.
  • 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 '50s style boarding school education. This first series was nominated for a BAFTA. The second series in 2004 saw thirty sixteen-year-olds of lesser academic achievement experience '60s 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 Quadrangle (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.[41] Clarkson used a Volvo estate, Hammond a Hyundai S-Coupe and May a Volkswagen Golf. The episode was aired in June 2009.[42]
  • In 2011 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.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe - GOV.UK". DfE. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Open academies map and schools submitting applications". Department for Education. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  3. ^ "2006 OFSTED Report" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  4. ^, Ofsted Communications Team (8 October 2020). "Find an inspection report and registered childcare". Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  5. ^ A Note On The Foundation Of The School by Leslie J Ashford, The Wycombiensian, April 1954 Archived 2015-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Governor's response to allegations against Dingle". Archived from the original on 9 January 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2006.
  7. ^ "'Gross misconduct' head is sacked". BBC News. 27 April 2006. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Royal Grammar School 'Homophobic' Maths Test Question Sparks Outrage". Huffington Post. 14 September 2016. Archived from the original on 11 March 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  9. ^ Colley, Andrew (14 September 2016). "Outrage as 'homophobic' maths test handed out at grammar school". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Article regarding new headmaster Mr Wayne". Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b A class apart: How does this state school get so many boys into Oxbridge? Archived 2017-09-23 at the Wayback Machine Published 7 October 2007 in The Independent, retrieved 28 November 2016
  12. ^ "RGS Admission Policy (Boarding places) (Sept 2020)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  13. ^ a b "RGS Admission Policy (Day places) (Sept 2020)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Fraser Youens House - Information for Parents" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Boarding". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
  16. ^ "Boarding - Meet The Team". Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  17. ^ "RGSHW Into the Sixth Form 2019 Entry" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  18. ^ "RGSHW - Lettings". Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  19. ^ "RGSHW - Sport". Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  20. ^ a b "RGSHW - CCF". Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Buy a Square Campaign". Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  22. ^ "RGSHW All Weather Pitch Opening Ceremony". Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Clubs, Societies & Co-Curricular Activities (2018-19)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  24. ^ "Funding of SLST equipment through the Parents Association" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  25. ^ "SLST YouTube Channel". Archived from the original on 10 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Royal Grammar School - Music". Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Royal Grammar School pupils crowned National Youth Choir of the Year at the Royal Festival Hall | Bucks Free Press". Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  28. ^ "The Gilbert & Sullivan Operas". Tony Hare's Website for the High Wycombe Royal Grammar School. Archived from the original on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  29. ^ "HWRUFC History".
  30. ^ Mair, Lewine (13 July 2005). "Donald makes a positive of plodder reputation". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  31. ^ "World Cup rugby star thanks his Wycombe school". Bucks Free Press. 28 November 2003.
  32. ^ "Rugby stars in shock report". Bucks Free Press. 20 July 2000. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  33. ^ "Club details". British Rowing.
  34. ^ "Juniors defy weather to flourish at Brit Champs". British Rowing.
  35. ^ "Letter to Parents Including Houses" (PDF) (pdf). Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 February 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  36. ^ "200 invalid-request". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  37. ^ "Who is Chris Grayling? Meet the new Transport Secretary". 26 July 2016. Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018 – via
  38. ^ "UEL History". Archived from the original on 31 August 2011.
  39. ^ "Rodger Scruton". Archived from the original on 31 August 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  40. ^ [T.S Eliot Archived 2018-09-30 at the Wayback Machine] Published by Chilterns
  41. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear stars in town". Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
  42. ^ "Top Gear Videos - Cars for Teenagers, part 1/3 (Series 13, Episode 2)". Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  43. ^ "BBC Three programmes - Our War: Ambushed". Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011.

External links[edit]