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History of the School

History Of The RAF School Of Physical Training

The Royal Air Force School of Physical Training (SofPT) was formed on the same day as the fledging Royal Air Force (RAF), 1st April 1918, at the re-designated RAF College Cranwell, previously Royal Naval Air Service Training Establishment, Cranwell. The SofPT is one of only 2 schools the same age as the RAF still in existence, the other being the Central Flying School. The School was based in the old Royal Navy swimming pool and gymnasium/station church (a wooden building which existed until the early 1960s). The School’s motto ‘Viribus Audax’ which means ‘Bold In Strength’ is symbolised by a Roebuck on the School Crest. The Roebuck was chosen because of its extraordinary alertness, energy and physical fitness; qualities we endeavour to instil in our Physical Training Instructors (PTI).

In 1920, the School moved to RAF Uxbridge where it remained until the Second World War. Early in the War the School was closed down - presumably because everyone thought the War would be over by Christmas and there was no need to train more PTIs. In contrast to this and probably when it was realised that it was going to be a long war, the RAF recruited many civilian trained physical education teachers as PTIs and Physical Fitness Officers. During 1940/1941, PTI training was resumed at 3 newly formed PT Schools: No 1 at RAF St. Athan, No 2 at RAF Cosford and No 3 at Loughborough College. Later in the War both No 1 and No 2 Schools were closed, presumably because there were enough trained PTIs.

To overcome the potential problems with the release scheme after the Second World War, 2 PT Schools were re-opened in late 1945/early 1946 at St. Athan and Cosford. For some reason, probably a simple administrative error, the numbers of the schools were reversed so that No 1 School was at Cosford and No 2 School was at St. Athan. In late 1946, it was decided to close No 2 S of PT at St. Athan as soon as the existing courses at St. Athan were completed and all training be transferred to Cosford, including the remainder of the staff.

After a number of years residing at Cosford, in 1954, the School was again moved back to St Athan and then finally, bringing us up to date, the school returned to RAF Cosford in 1977.

Since 1977, there have been many changes at the SofPT with some notable milestones: in 1977, No 65 Basic PTI Course (BPTIC) was the first course to graduate at the newly formed School at Cosford. Their training had started at RAF St Athan and was bridged during the move from South Wales. In November 1977, the course numbers were zeroed and the No1 BPTIC commenced training. Since that date 88 courses have subsequently graduated including 5 female only courses. The first combined male and female course was No29 BPTIC that started training in August 1988. As of May 2016, the School had graduated over 1,000 PTIs, had 19 Officers Commanding SofPT and 15 School Warrant Officers.

The SofPT is ultimately responsible for the Specialist Trade Training of Basic PTIs, the running of Trade Management Training Courses for newly promoted Corporal and Sergeant PTIs and the initial Personnel Branch Officers Physical Education (PBO PEd) Course.

The SofPT presently has 39 RAF and 10 civilian staff spread throughout Training Delivery Flight, Course Design Flight, Formal Training Flight, Station Physical Education Flight, Home for Sport and Civilian Support.

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