Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe

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The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe
RGSHW Crest.gif
Motto Latin: Schola Regia Grammatica
Established 1562
Type Selective Grammar School
Headmaster Philip Wayne
Location Amersham Road
High Wycombe
HP13 6QT
England, United Kingdom
51°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
DfE URN 136484 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Staff c. 100
Students 1389[1]
Gender Boys
Ages 11–19
Houses                          St. James (Red), Sandringham (Orange), Windsor (Yellow), Buckingham (Green), Balmoral (Blue), Kensington (Indigo)
Colours      White,      San Marino Approx. (#4165B3)
Former pupils Old Wycombiensians
Specialist Language
Maths and Computing

The Royal Grammar School (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 pupils to attend, but they must pass an entrance exam (the 11-plus). In February 2011 the school became an Academy.[2]

Established by Royal Charter in 1562 (though originally established as a school in 1548), it is situated on Amersham Hill to the north of the town and has a capacity of about 1,450 boys aged between 11 and 19, open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 3:40pm, students can then stay at the school later for homework club or other activities. 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.[3] It is highly regarded by bodies such as OFSTED, which gave it a Grade 1 ranking in every area of its 2015 inspection,[4] and it regularly achieves high rankings on a country-wide scale for GCSE and A-level results.[5]


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,[6] the school received its 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.

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.


The Headmaster is Philip Wayne, who was Headmaster of Chesham Grammar School for eight years before joining RGSHW.[7] He succeeded Roy Page in September 2015.[7]


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.[8] Entry to a grammar school usually requires a score of 121/141,[citation needed] though pupils who gain scores of 117 and above are invited to appeal their case.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]


Though primarily a day school, some pupils have boarded at the school since its foundation. 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.[9] 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 pupils to attend RGS, who would otherwise be unable to: pupils from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya and Singapore reside in Fraser Youens. 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.

Boys may be awarded scholarships if they cannot afford the fees but nevertheless wish to attend the school and are too far away.[citation needed]

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. All RGS boys joining the sixth form are expected to study 4 A Levels for the first year and then at the second year drop one or continue with all 4.

Entry Requirements[edit]

To enter the RGS sixth form, boys must meet the following minimum requirements:[10]

  • 8 GCSEs - 7 at Grade 6 / B or above including English and Mathematics and 1 at Grade 5 / C or above

OR The equivalent in points (47) from your best 8 GCSEs, including English and Mathematics at Grade 6 / B (minimum). Points: A*=8, A=7, B=6, C=5.

  • If there is oversubscription in a subject, selection will be made according to the School's Admissions Policy followed by the highest UMS score in the required GCSEs.
  • There are also per subject requirements.

Available Subjects[edit]

The following subjects are available for A Levels:[11]

  • Ancient History
  • Art
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • Design and Technology
  • Economics
  • English Language & Literature
  • 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, two sports gyms, a large multi-purpose hall named "the Queen's Hall", 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,[12] 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, Mandarin Chinese, 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 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,[13] a new grass pitch, which was completed in April 2016,[14] and also to renovate the 100-year-old Main Block classrooms.


Stage Lighting and Sound Team[edit]


The Stage Lighting and Sound Team (SLST) 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.[15] The team can be dated back to 1994 and provides lighting for school events (such as concerts and Jeans 4 Genes) and sound for assemblies whilst also being a prominent contributor to the school's drama scene with a March 2017 production of Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady.[16] They also have their own YouTube channel.[17]

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 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.[18] It forms a part of a larger range of options 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 large selection of bands, choirs, orchestras, and a number of smaller groups, all rehearsing on a regular basis. Several of the senior groups have featured regularly at the National Festival of Music for Youth in the course of the last 14 years.


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.[19] Sporting alumni include golfer Luke Donald,[20] 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson[21] and 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens winner Nick Beal.[22]



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)).[23] 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. [24]

Notable alumni and teachers[edit]

Alumni of the RGS are known as Old Wycombiensians, or OWs, and include Chris Grayling,[25] UK Secretary of State for Transport, the singer Ian Dury,[26] the comedian Jimmy Carr[8] and the philosopher Roger Scruton.[27] The Old Wycombiensians' Committee hosts an annual reunion dinner for Old Wycombiensians at the RGS.

T.S Eliot taught for a term at the school in the autumn of 1915.[28]

Public controversies[edit]

Timothy Dingle[edit]

In February 2006 the Daily Mail tabloid reported on accusations made by a woman Headmaster Timothy Dingle had had an affair with. Following an independent investigation the governors of the Royal Grammar School dismissed Dingle for "gross misconduct"; however, he had already resigned to take the position of head at a private school in Argentina. He did not take the position.[29] [30]

Maths question controversy[edit]

The school made national headlines in 2016 after a question set in a practice maths test set by a volunteer (a retired teacher) was deemed as 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.[31]

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 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.[32] Clarkson used a Volvo estate, Hammond a Hyundai S-Coupe and May a Volkswagen Golf. The episode was aired in June 2009.[33]
  • 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.[34]

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 continued up until the present day, including a notable performance of the Pirates of Penzance in 1997.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "URN 136484 The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe". Edubase/DfE. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Open academies map and schools submitting applications". Department for Education. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  3. ^ "2006 OFSTED Report" (PDF).
  4. ^ "2006 OFSTED Report". Grade 1 is "outstanding".
  5. ^ "BBC Report". BBC News. 2 November 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  6. ^ A Note On The Foundation Of The School by Leslie J Ashford, The Wycombiensian, April 1954
  7. ^ a b "Article regarding new headmaster Mr Wayne".
  8. ^ a b A class apart: How does this state school get so many boys into Oxbridge? Published 7 October 2007 in The Independent, retrieved 28 November 2016
  9. ^ "Boarding".
  10. ^ "RGSHW Into the Sixth Form 2017 Entry" (PDF). Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  11. ^ "RGSHW Into the Sixth Form 2017 Entry" (PDF). Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  12. ^ "RGSHW Sports Facilities".
  13. ^ "Buy a Square Campaign".
  14. ^ "RGSHW All Weather Pitch Opening Ceremony".
  15. ^ "Funding of SLST equipment through the Parents Association" (PDF).
  16. ^ "RGSHW Parents Letter - My Fair Lady Ticket Release" (PDF).
  17. ^ "SLST YouTube Channel".
  18. ^ "RGSHW CCF Activities Page".
  19. ^ HWRUFC History
  20. ^ Mair, Lewine (13 July 2005). "Donald makes a positive of plodder reputation". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Me and my school photo: Rugby star Matt Dawson". Daily Mail. 22 May 2009.
  22. ^ "Rugby stars in shock report". Bucks Free Press. 20 July 2000. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  23. ^ "Letter to Parents Including Houses" (PDF) (pdf).
  24. ^
  25. ^ Who is Chris Grayling? Meet the new Transport Secretary
  26. ^ "UEL History". Archived from the original on 2011-08-31.
  27. ^ "Rodger Scruton". Archived from the original on 2010-08-31.
  28. ^ [T.S Eliot] Published by Chilterns
  29. ^ "Governor's response to allegations against Dingle". Archived from the original on 2007-01-09. Retrieved 2006-02-12.
  30. ^ "BBC News on the dismissal of Tim Dingle". 27 April 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  31. ^ "Royal Grammar School 'Homophobic' Maths Test Question Sparks Outrage". Huffington Post. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  32. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear stars in town". Retrieved 4 May 2009.
  33. ^ "Top Gear Videos - Cars for Teenagers, part 1/3 (Series 13, Episode 2)".
  34. ^ "BBC Three programmes - Our War: Ambushed". Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  35. ^ "The Gilbert & Sullivan Operas". Tony Hare's Website for the High Wycombe Royal Grammar School.

External links[edit]