Last Updated: 17 September, 2017
It is not possible to join the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) directly from civilian life. Prospective Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) must first join another regiment or corps and then qualify as Regimental PTIs on the All Arms Physical Training Instructor (AA PTI) course at the Army School of Physical Training (ASPT).
Soldiers then return to their own unit and only after further experience can they attend selection for the RAPTC.
If they pass the selection course they follow a 30-week intensive training course before qualifying as an RAPTC Instructor and transfer to the RAPTC.
2.0 Training Hierarchy
The ASPT forms part of the Army Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD), commanded by the Director General Army Recruiting and Training (DG ART), a Major General (OF-7), who in turn reports to the Commander Force Development and Training (FDT), a Lieutenant General (OF-8).
During the 2013/2014 training year the ARTD was re-subordinated back to the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC), also under the command of a Lieutenant General (OF-8), and at the same time absorbed the Collective Training Group (CTG).
3.0 Royal Army Physical Training Corps
The Commandant of the RAPTC is a Brigadier (OF-6), a direct entry officer, who is not a member of the Corps. Not including the Commandant, all members of the RAPTC are qualified PTIs.
The RAPTC is responsible for the physical development (PD) of personnel across the wider-Army and performs these responsibilities through four strands:
- Physical Training (PT), encompassing:
- Physical Fitness (PF)
- Physical Education (PE)
- Adventurous Training (AT);
- Sport; and
- Rehabilitation and Health.
The RAPTC was formed in 1860 as the Army Gymnastic Staff. It was renamed the Army Physical Training Staff in 1918 and was given its present corps status by Army Order 165 in 1940. Based at the ASPT in Aldershot, its instructors are attached to every battalion and regiment in the British Army.
It is not possible to join the RAPTC directly from civilian life (i.e. it is a non-direct entry role). Prospective PTIs must first join another regiment or corps and then qualify as Regimental PTIs on the 9-week AA PTI course at the ASPT. Soldiers then return to their own unit and only after further experience can they attend selection for the RAPTC. If they pass the selection course they follow a 30-week intensive training course (2 x 15 weeks, Senior & Junior terms) before qualifying as an RAPTC Instructor and transfer to the RAPTC.
The Headquarters (HQ) RAPTC and HQ ASPT are based in the Mackenzie building, Fox Lines in Aldershot. The RAPTC Association and the RAPTC Museum (Henslow Room) are also based in Fox Lines.
3.1 Organisation of the RAPTC
Figure 1 provides the reader with an overview of the organisation of the RAPTC.
Figure 1: Overview of the RAPTC
4.0 Army School of Physical Training
The ASPT is the central training establishment for PD and the training of PTIs in the British Army. It is located in Fox Lines, Aldershot.
4.1 All Arms Physical Training Instructor Course
It is not possible to join the RAPTC directly from civilian life. Prospective PTIs must first join another regiment or corps and qualify as Regimental PTIs on the All Arms Physical Training Instructor (AA PTI) course which is held at the ASPT in Aldershot, or at Sennelager for personnel stationed in Germany (due to close very shortly). There is no minimum term to serve before individuals can apply to take the AA PTI course.
4.2 RAPTC Selection Course
After passing the AA PTI course and gaining experience, individuals who feel they have the qualities and aptitude for the RAPTC can apply for a transfer. The first step in this journey would be to apply for the 5-day RAPTC Selection course.
Only the best 36 are selected for this course, so candidates need to be fully prepared. The course includes a range of tests and assessments that will determine suitability. Candidates work in syndicates of 8, each overseen by one RAPTC Officer and one Senior Warrant Officer.
There are written tests, group discussions, command tasks, lectures and, naturally, lots of physical tests that will push some individuals to their limits. The most important qualities that the selection team are looking for are those of a senior non-commissioned officer (SNCO), because, if an individual passes, they will be promoted to Sergeant to attend the next course.
Between April 2010 and March 2015 a total of 320 personnel attended an RAPTC Selection Course, of which 51% passed overall.
4.3 RAPTC Class One Course
This is a 30-week course, split into 2 x 15 week (Senior and Junior) terms since 2012. It is held in Aldershot and is designed to give candidates all the skills and knowledge for a career in the RAPTC. Students get an insight into the specialist RAPTC areas of Adventurous Training and Rehabilitation, and acquire qualifications in a range of sports and activities.
During this course all students are required to complete a Foundation Degree in Sport, Health and Fitness with the University of St Marks and St Johns (USMSJ, 2013). This allows the student on completion of the foundation degree and successful transfer into the RAPTC the possibility of completing a specialist BSc (Hons) degree in their chosen physical development field.
This is a demanding course that requires complete dedication. During the later phase of the course, candidates will be allocated posts into one of the three areas of RAPTC expertise. At the end of the course, students transfer into the RAPTC as a Sergeant Instructor with a mix of military and civilian qualifications, including the highest level award from the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs).
Between April 2010 and March 2015 a total of 200 personnel started a RAPTC Class One Course, of which 87% passed overall.
5.0 RAPTC Careers
There is continuing educational progression as individual’s journey through the RAPTCI talent pipeline. As such, there are promotion courses at Sgt, SSgt, WO2 and, since 2012, WO1 that RAPTCI staff must attend. Since late 2012 there has also been a Captains course for RAPTCI staff commissioned as Late Entry officers.
Individuals start at the rank of Sergeant in the RAPTC and then progress as follows:
- OR-6: Sergeant (Sergeant Instructor), Sgt (SI)
- OR-7: Staff Sergeant (Staff Sergeant Instructor), SSgt (SSI)
- OR-8: Warrant Officer Class Two (Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor), WO2 (QMSI)
- OR-9: Warrant Officer Class One (Sergeant-Major Instructor), WO1 (SMI)
- OF-2: Captain (Master at Arms), Capt (MAA)
- OF-3: Major (Master at Arms, Maj (MAA)
- OF-4: Lieutenant Colonel (Master at Arms), Lt Col (MAA); the Lt Col at HQ RAPTC is referred to as the Senior MAA (SMAA).
OR (other ranks) and OF (officers) refers to the NATO ranking system which provides a common form of identification for ranks across the various armies, navies and air forces of the NATO countries.
5.1 Mainstream Instructor
As a qualified RAPTCI who has been chosen or selected to remain in the mainstream PT environment, Sergeant Instructors (SI) will be employed at any of the wide number of varying Army training establishments, for at least two tours. During this time SIs will normally work for an RAPTC Officer or Warrant Officer who will aid career development with on-the-job training.
Promotion to Staff Sergeant Instructor (SSI) means employment in the Field Army, acting independently within a wide range of units, covering every aspect of fitness training in readiness for operational deployments and training for war.
After promotion to Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2 QMSI), individuals could return to a training establishment as the department head, or remain in the Field Army in a range of Garrison appointments running large facilities. For those with the right skills there are a number of Divisional Headquarters Warrant Officer Posts within the Physical and Adventurous Training Branch.
Those good enough and selected for Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1 SMI) will be employed within a Divisional or Brigade Headquarters as a Staff Assistant. There are also training establishment appointments, including the Corps senior appointment, the Corps Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).
5.2 Exercise Rehabilitation Instructor
Those transferring into this role will attend the Exercise Rehabilitation Instructor (ERI) course at the Defence Medical Services Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court. Students will include PTIs from branches of all three services.
The course runs for 6 months and comprises studies, clinical practice and assessments. It is also a fantastic opportunity to improve understanding of a wide range of subjects within medical rehabilitation and exercise therapy.
Once qualified, individuals will spend at least two tours as an ERI working in units such as Regional Rehabilitation Units or Primary Care Rehabilitation Facilities. There are also opportunities to stay at Headley Court working with patients with more serious injuries.
The first appointment will normally see individuals work for an RAPTC Warrant Officer, who will aid career development with on-the-job training. During this time individuals may also complete an operational tour as an ERI, working as part of a multi-disciplinary medical team.
Promotion to SSI means employemnt in the Field Army, acting independently as a generalist PTI, covering every aspect of fitness training in readiness for operational deployments and training for war.
On promotion to WO2 QMSI, individuals may be employed in the specialist roles of a tutor at the Joint Service School for Exercise Rehabilitation Instructors, the senior ERI at a Regional Rehabilitation Unit or as the ERI specialist at the ASPT. Further specialist appointments are then available if selected for promotion to WO1 SMI.
5.3 Adventurous Training Instructor
Those who are selected for this role will attend the six month Adventurous Training Instructor (ATI) course and qualify in a wide range of Adventurous Training (outdoor pursuits) qualifications. The course is held at the Joint Service Mountain Training Wing Indefatigable (JSMTW(I)) in Anglesey, just outside Snowdonia National Park, and is one of four wings which form the the Joint Service Mountain Training Centre (JSMTC).
Once qualified, individuals will be employed to deliver Adventurous Training in a variety of units from recruit training establishments to Joint Service Centres spread across the UK and as far flung as Cyprus, Germany, Norway and Canada. SIs will normally work for an RAPTC Warrant Officer, who will aid career development with on-the-job training.
Promotion to SSI means employment in the Field Army, acting independently as a generalist PTI within a wide range of units, covering every aspect of fitness training in readiness for operational deployments and training for war.
Following promotion to WO2 QMSI, individuals could return to a number of Senior Instructor posts in any of the centres that have them.
Those good enough and selected for WO1 SMI can be employed within any of the posts shown for the mainstream PTI. However, they can also be appointed to one of two posts that are for specialist ATIs: one is Chief Instructor of the centre in Canada and the other is Chief Instructor at a centre for recruit training in Sennybridge, South Wales.
5.4 Late Entry Officer
Those who demonstrate the aptitude will have an opportunity for a second career as a Late Entry (LE) Officer within the RAPTC, or even with another Corps, if vacancies become available. As such all officers in the RAPTC are commissioned from the ranks and may potentially attain the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Officers are awarded the title ‘Master at Arms’ (MAA), although the senior Lieutenant Colonel at HQ RAPTC has the title ‘Senior Master at Arms’ (SMAA).
6.0 Examples of Posts for LE Officers and Other Ranks
- HQ RAPTC:
- SMAA RAPTC, Lieutenant Colonel
- SO2 Policy & Plans, Major
- SO2 Training Development, Major
- SO3 Policy & Plans, Captain
- SMI Training & Development Team, WO1
- Senior Analyst PTI Courses, WO1
- Senior Analyst DTrg(A) Courses, WO2
- Analyst DTrg(A) Courses, Staff Sergeant
- Analyst PTI Courses, Sergeant
- Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel
- 2IC, Major
- Quartermaster (QM), Major
- Adjutant, Captain
- Chief Instructor, Captain
- RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major), WO1
- Course Instructor, WO2-Sgt
- Course Design, WO2-Sgt
- Directorate of Training (Army):
- SO1 Physical Development, Lieutenant Colonel
- SO2 Physical Training, Major
- SO2 Adventurous Training & Sport, Major
- Within HQ of Division:
- SO2 Physical Development, Major
- SO2 Personal Development, Major
- SMI Physical Development, WO1
- SMI Sport, WO1
- Senior Warrant Officer Physical Development (SWOPD), WO2
- Within HQ of Brigade:
- SO3 Physical Development, Captain
- SMI Physical Development, WO1
- FTRS WO2 Physical Development (replacing SMI)
- Within Regimental Units:
- WO2 (QMSI)
- SSgt (SSI)
- Sgt (SI)
- Primary Care Rehabilitation Facility:
- Exercise Rehabilitation Instructor, WO1-Sgt
7.0 Cost of Training
The cost per soldier for Phase 2 training for the Royal Army Physical Training Corps is currently unknown.
8.0 Further Reading
RAPTC Association @ http://raptcassociation.org.uk/
Mind, Body and Spirit: The Journal of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps. Published annually each September.
USMSJ (University of St Marks and St John) (2013) Army Physical Trainers commence their degrees at the University of St Mark & St John. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.marjon.ac.uk/about-marjon/news-and-events/marjon-news/army-physical-trainers-commence-their-degrees-at-the-university-of-st-mark–st-john.html. [Accessed: 25 March, 2014].