ACPE's History

The ACPE Academy is part of ACPE, the Australian College of Physical Education, which is one of Australia's oldest higher education institutions.


ACPE was founded in 1917 as a physical education training institute for young women. The idea of establishing the college arose out of discussions between Evelyn Tildesley, Principal of Normanhurst School in Ashfield, and Frank Stuart, a noted swordsman and physical training instructor who taught fencing to members of the Russian and British royal families and who would go on to coach Australian fencing teams at the 1950 Empire Games and 1952 Olympics.

The college commenced operations at the Normanhurst School with an initial induction of seven students, six of whom were Normanhurst graduates. In 1919 the Australian College of Physical Education and the Swords Club were jointly registered – a connection that is reflected to this day in the ACPE emblem.

Frank Stuart maintained that the aim of physical education was to "gain physical perfection. It is not the ideal to gain muscular strength alone, but to gain the perfect balance, wherein a healthy body, working balanced against a healthy mind, achieves that co-ordination and harmony of body and mind."

In 1948 a company was formed between Stuart and Ruth Hackney, and ACPE became a propriety company limited by shares. The college's second principal, Hackney was a graduate and lecturer of the college; she was also a champion athlete who represented Australia in fencing. She provided a home for the college in a large warehouse in Petersham from 1949 to 1970 and, under her direction, ACPE developed a reputation for producing outstanding teachers, much sought-after in the independent school sector.

In 1970 the third principal, John Butt, purchased ACPE and moved the college to Croydon. In 1971 he introduced the first intake of male students. In 1976 the college was registered as a public company, limited by guarantee and not-for-profit. Subsequently the college became a fully accredited degree-granting institution.

In 2000 the college moved to its current site at 8 Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park. ACPE was purchased by global education provider Study Group in 2009.

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Established for 97 years

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