History of the Met Office College

The Met Office has been providing meteorological tuition for more than 70 years

Over 70 years of training at the Met Office

The Met Office is a Trading Fund within the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) operating on a commercial basis under set targets. It was established in 1854 as a small department within the Board of Trade as a service to mariners under Captain Robert FitzRoy, then became part of the Ministry of Defence before moving to BIS in 2011.

The development of skills in forecasting, the underpinning science and the technology/instrumentation has been part of the Met Office's mission from the beginning. The official opening date of the Met Office Training School was 15 September 1939. That School was set up by David Brunt and P.A. ('Peter') Sheppard, both seconded from Imperial College to the Air Ministry specifically to open such a school. It was initially located in Berkeley Square House, London.

One of the early requirements was to train forecasters to deliver a forecasting service for potential commercial flight routes across the North Atlantic. The School played a vital role during WWII training military personnel, especially from the RAF, in the weather and its potential impacts on operations and sorties.

The post-war years saw a significant increase in staff at the Met Office and with the expansion of forecasting services, the training of forecasters became vital in ensuring the Office continued to meet it obligations to the military and increasingly the civilian communities. The Training School changed its location a number of times during the 50s and 60s but always continued its remit to train forecasters, observers and research scientists.

In 1972 the Training School moved to a dedicated site at Shinfield near Reading where accommodation blocks supported a comprehensive programme of residential courses, some many months long. Synchronous with the move, the name of the Met Office's training establishment changed from 'The Meteorological Training School' to the 'Meteorological Office College' (now The Met Office College).

College personnel have continued since then to train significant numbers of operational meteorological staff and scientists, plus increasingly customers both in the UK and from overseas. These customers include the military (Army, Navy and RAF), civil aviation, civil contingencies, other UK Government departments, other national met service providers and staff from a wide range of industries such as road, broadcasting and renewable energy. Always keeping abreast of new science, the College is now supporting its customers in the understanding of the impacts of climate change, helping them plan for the future.

The College has been at the forefront of developing nationally recognised qualifications that show employees meet national occupational standards of competence in meteorology. In 2001, this led to the introduction of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in Weather Forecasting and Meteorological Observing. During 2010, the vocational qualification structure across all professions was revised, and again the College was instrumental in the development of new qualifications to ensure the competence of meteorological staff. This led to the introduction of various qualifications that fit into the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), including a Level 5 Diploma in Meteorological Forecasting, a Level 5 Award in Meteorological Briefing, a Level 3 Diploma in Meteorological Observing and a Level 6 Diploma in Flood Forecasting.

Now based is the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon, the College is embarking on an exciting chapter in its history as the impacts of weather and climate on citizens become more evident, industry needs to respond to new regulation and environmental challenges and our armed services operate highly specialised equipment in difficult environmental conditions. Our trainers, who are experienced meteorologists and climate scientists, can provide the best possible advice, training and support tailored to specific customer requirements.

The Met Office College provides a wide range of courses. To receive more information about training please register your details.

Last updated: 10 December 2013