The RAF Movements School is tasked directly by HQ Strike Command to provide movements and mobility training to personnel of all three Services and other Government departments. The School is commanded by a squadron leader Movements specialist of the Supply Branch and has a staff of 47. The primary functions of the School are to provide training for selected officers of the Supply Branch and all airmen of Trade Group 18 (Movements). Additionally, certain Foreign and Commonwealth forces send students for training on these courses. The School conducts mobility training for officers and airmen of all branches of the Royal Air Force and for students from the Royal Navy, Army and other Government departments. In all, the School runs approximately 25 different courses with an annual throughput of over 1900 personnel. These courses range from the basic recruit course of 17 weeks to short courses lasting only one week or less.
All courses held at the School make use of extensive practical training facilities. These facilities range from full size aircraft mock-ups to computer terminals and a passenger check-in desk. Aircraft mock-ups include a Hercules CMK1, a Hercules CMk3, a VC10 airframe and the new Hercules C-130J. No 4624 Movements Squadron (County of Oxford) RAuxAF uses all facilities in the School extensively during weekends.
The history of the RAF Movements School dates back to 1943 when the need to train personnel in all aspects of air and surface movements became apparent. On 1 November 1944, the Transport Command Traffic Control School was formed at RAF St Mawgan, where it remained until the School moved to RAF Bramcote on 26 November 1945. In March 1947, the School disbanded and all movements training was carried out within the Equipment School at RAF Hereford. In January 1954, the RAF Movements School was formed at RAF Kidbrooke in southeast London, and on 21 February 1956; the School received the current Unit badge, signed by Her Majesty the Queen. The badge shows the swan superimposed on the torch and the motto ‘Ars Lenit Iter’. The swan represents movement by land, sea and air, while the torch represents learning. The motto can be roughly translated as ‘Skill Smoothes the Journey’.
In January 1963, the School moved to RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey in Lincolnshire, but was disbanded in December of the same year. In that month the Air Movements Training School was formed at RAF Abingdon. This brought the School into Command again and allowed close relationships to form between the operational transport squadrons, the Air Movements Squadron and the Transport Development Unit (which at that time controlled the Mobile Air Movements Flight).
In the early 1970s the transport squadrons and the Air Movements Squadron moved from RAF Abingdon, and in March 1972 the Air Movements Training School also moved, to its present location at RAF Brize Norton. On 6 August 1974, the title of the School reverted to the RAF Movements School, signifying the involvement of Movements personnel in both air and surface modes of transportation.
On 1 April 2004, the Defence Movements School (DMS) formed up around the legacy RAF Movements School. The DMS is one of seven constituent schools of the new Federated Defence College of Logistics, which has been formed up as one of six Defence Colleges; part of the Defence Training Review. The School provides a wide range of Movements training, designed to equip personnel with the skills required to deploy, sustain and recover forces in support of operations, exercises and humanitarian relief anywhere in the world.
The history of the School dates back to mid-1944, when the requirement to train personnel in all aspects of air and surface movements became apparent. The first establishment, known as Number 1 Air Traffic School, was formed in November 1944 at RAF St Mawgan, and since that time the School has been based at a number of different locations before arriving at RAF Brize Norton in 1972. In 1956, the School received its current Unit Crest – a swan imposed over a lighted torch. The swan signifies movement by air, land and sea, while the torch symbolises knowledge and learning. The School’s motto ‘Ars Lenit Iter’ can be translated as ‘Skill Smoothes the Journey’.
Movements training is provided to students from all three Services and also to various Government agencies and foreign and Commonwealth forces. Each year an average of 850 students pass through the School, completing one of the 26 different types of courses on offer. The courses range from the 21-week Basic Movements Training course for new recruits, to 3-day Mobility appreciation courses for personnel from other trades. Advanced movements skills, explosives handling, and dangerous air cargo procedures are taught to experienced tradesmen, while specialised ADP training courses are available to both Service and MOD civilians. Classroom theory is consolidated through realistic exercises using the extensive practical training facilities available within the School. These exercises range from a passenger check-in simulator to full size aircraft mock-ups of the VC10, and Hercules C130 K and C130 J. A wide range of equipment and vehicles are also maintained, which can be loaded to the various aircraft mock-ups to reinforce practical skills and techniques.
The fresh emphasis upon mobility for the Armed Forces, and the introduction of new transport aircraft such as the C17 and A400M, heralds a new chapter in the School's history. However, whatever challenges the new Millennium brings, the Defence Movements School will continue to provide the RAF and all three Services with the ‘Skill to Smooth the Journey’.