Cpl Alex Dutch has recently completed a work experience course with the RAF Physical Training School at RAF Cosford. One of a series (the range of which is constanly expanding) of course available to Senior Cadets to get a chance to experience the different trades and branches of the RAF.
Her report is below: PTI Work Experience Course Cpl Alex Dutch On the 5th April, I found myself making my way to DCAE Cosford, where I would be spending my next few days on a work experience course. DCAE Cosford is the home for sport in the RAF and is where all the Physical training instructors (PTI’s) in the RAF are trained. Only 12 cadets from around the country were selected for this course, so I felt very privileged to be there. Upon arrival at Cosford station, those of us on the course waited for the minibus to transport us to our accommodation within the base. As I arrived 2 hours early, I had a long time to get to know the other people on the course, so by the time the MT arrived we were all getting on very well! After a quick stop at our accommodation to drop our kit off we went straight to our first activity which was a talk by a SGT from the AFCO in Birmingham, who talked us through the process of becoming a PTI. We were all given careers packs full information on the RAF and specialising as a PTI.
A Physical Education Officer (PEd Officer) then came and spoke to us on the officer side of things in the Physical Education Branch. The next day we went straight to the Gym, where the School of PT was based. As soon as we got there, we were straight away put into a briefing form one of the SGT PTI’s, who let us know how the week would be running, and answered the questions we had. We then had a talk about the process of becoming a PTI, this was in much more detail than the day before, and we were even lucky enough to have our course over the same week as a vetting was talking place, so we saw what the people on the vetting course were going through. A vetting is where all the potential PTI’s start off. It is a 3 day selection course, which involves interviews, fitness tests and presentations. Although we were not on the vetting course, we completed many aspects of it, being scored on the same way that those on the selection course were. We then underwent the RAF fitness tests. To be a PTI, you have to pass with much higher standards than everyone else, so the pass mark goes significantly up. The test involved the multistage fitness test and press ups and sits ups in a minute. Most of the course passed, but even though everyone had passed the RAF standard, only a couple of us had passed everything with the PTI standard.
We then had another talk. This was about OOA (Out Of Area ops) from a flight Sergeant, who had returned from Iraq only a few days before. He explained that many people who want to be PTI’s don’t realise that they might be needed overseas. We then had a PT session, which involved a sports circuit. It was the same circuit they use on the vetting, and involved a station on rugby, basketball, volleyball, hockey, football, badminton and tennis. It was funny to see how some of people who had done extremely well on the bleep test had absolutely no hand eye coordination and failed this part of the course! The last session we had at that day was a brief on presentations for the next day. We were told to prepare short presentations on ourselves, including our sporting achievements, and why we wanted to become PTI’s. This is another thing that they also do on the vetting, so it was a good opportunity for us to experience. In the evening we had a visit from a CPL in the training and management branch at Cosford. He was there to give us a lesson on teamwork, so took us to the low ropes course for some team building activities. This was a great session, and got everyone working together quickly.
On our way back from the low ropes course, we passed the Gym, and decided to spend out evening in there. I played basketball all evening, whilst some of the others played badminton. The facilities on the base were amazing, and it was great to have access to them! We stayed until the sports hall shut, and then went to sit in the naffe before walking back to the accommodation. After that it was time for bed! I started preparing my presentation for the next day, and I was so tired after such a long day so I had no trouble sleeping! The next morning we woke up early and after breakfast went straight to the gym for more teamwork exercises. The natural leaders stood out and everyone was so loud and competitive that the first activity, although completed, was full of negative feedback from the staff! We then had a discussion within the group on how we could improve, and the second exercise went a lot better with lots of positive comments from the staff. The next part of the morning started out with our presentations. Some of us had gone to great lengths to prepare the talks, whilst others had sat around doing nothing, but luckily this showed during the talks, with some being far better than others. It was really interesting to hear about everyone else’s achievements and all the individual reasons for them wanting to be PTI’s. We then had another PT session, which involved a circuit.
This was probably one of the hardest parts of the course as the circuit was so intense and the PTI’s were behind us the whole time shouting at us to go faster! We then had a specialisation talk from some of the PTI’s who were trained in different areas. There are three specialisations you can go into as a PTI, either Adventure Training Instructor (ATI), Remedial Instructor (RI) or Parachute Jump instructor (PJI), some of the PTI’s that spoke to us were lucky enough to have two specialisations. Before the specialisations talk, I was swaying towards the ATI side of things, and the Video they showed us backed up my decision even more! After 6 months of training an ATI can be qualified in activities such as Skiing, snow and ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and mountaineering and will train all over the world! Next was the RAF swimming test. This consisted of timed lengths, retrieving a brick from 4m underwater, and 2 lengths of backstroke, breaststroke and front crawl. Surprisingly, only a few of us passed this section of the course, with the PTIs telling us that even those of us that passed, would have to improve our technique before coming back for our 3 day vetting.
After this we then had a visit from some of the trainees on the BPTIC (basic PTI Course) who came speak to us about their training so far. They had just returned from a week in Llanrwst, North Wales, where they had been adventure training. We asked loads of questions about their training, their favourite and worst parts of the course so far, and any advice they’d give to us. This was one of my favourite sessions as the some of the trainees were my age, so could really relate their answers to us. After this we had dinner then headed back to the Gym and played a long game of basketball (which my team won!) followed by football and badminton. Again, we stayed until the sports hall shut, so we all walked back to the accommodation before lights out. Everyone was exhausted by the time we had to go to bed, so packed quickly before a bit of socialising before we all fell asleep. The next morning we had a debrief from the staff then it was time to go! We got all out kit together and said our goodbyes and I took the long train ride back to London! This is one of the best courses I’ve done so far with the ATC. It gave me a great insight to a potential career for me, and I would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in a career as a PTI or a PEd Officer in the RAF!!