Tradition with Vision
The ESO has a long history of innovation and continues to influence osteopathy across Europe and beyond.
The School is renowned for its broad range of osteopathic approaches and it has a rich history of innovation and inclusiveness; modern visceral osteopathy began at the ESO under pioneers such as Jean-Pierre Barrell and the School was the first to introduce balanced ligamentous and spinal and pelvic joint muscle energy techniques to Europe from the USA. It was the first to teach and practise paediatric osteopathy, the first to include indirect and cranial approaches at undergraduate level and, more recently, first to welcome ‘Still techniques’ to Europe.
Originally named Ecole Française d’Ostéopathie, the School was created in Paris by Paul Gény later known as the ‘Father of Osteopathy’ in France. This part-time French-speaking course was designed for state registered physiotherapists who’d been inspired by what they had seen and heard of osteopathy. In 1965, with support from Tom Dummer and Margery Bloomfield who would later found the ESO, the school transfers to London, where it attracts an impressive faculty of leading osteopaths. To reflect the breadth of its student body, the school is renamed Ecole Européenne d’Ostéopathie.
The school relocates to Maidstone and, in 1974, the European School of Osteopathy / Ecole Européene d’Osteopathie is born, offering a 4-year full-time English-speaking diploma course. 1979 sees the official opening of premises at 104 Tonbridge Road, the School’s first independent facilities and a milestone in the School’s history. An extension at Tonbridge Road in 1984 creates Osteopathy’s first custom-built clinic.
The new facilities are formally opened with a ceremony attended by representatives of the World Health Organisation and dignitaries from the UK and across Europe. In 1989 the ESO becomes the first osteopathic school in Europe to offer a paediatric clinic. The part-time French speaking programme is gradually run down, with the School supporting the development of new osteopathic schools in France and Belgium. In 1993 The Osteopaths Act is passed and the title ‘Osteopath’ is legally protected – the UK is the first country in Europe to regulate the profession. In the same year, the ESO’s Diploma programme becomes university validated.
The ESO’s international influence continues with new partnerships formed. Due to demand for places on the UK degree programme, the ESO purchases Boxley House where the majority of lectures and administrative offices are relocated. The Tonbridge Road site operates as a dedicated teaching clinic. In 1996 a new regulator is formed – the General Osteopathic Council. All osteopaths practising in the UK must now be registered with the GOsC and must hold a recognised qualification from an accredited training provider. The ESO degree programme is later upgraded to the Masters in Osteopathy to reflect the high level of education provided.
In June 2006, an original A.T. Still walking staff* is donated to the European School of Osteopathy by American osteopath Stephen F. Paulus DO, as a symbol of the deep osteopathic connection between the United States and Britain and in recognition of links to all of Europe via its international collaborations. The staff takes pride of place at the ESO’s Boxley House campus.
In 2017 HRH Princess Eugenie of York becomes Royal Patron of the ESO. The Princess attends the ESO Graduation Ceremony for the first time, awarding UK full-time students the Masters in Osteopathy and students from our Russian partner schools the Diploma In Osteopathy (International).
*The Becker staff was first gifted by A.T. Still to Arthur Becker DO as a token of their friendship and in reward for his devotion to Osteopathy. A graduate of the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri, Arthur Becker was one of the early osteopathic pioneers in America. The Becker Staff was bequeathed to son Rollin Becker DO and, when he died, to Donald Becker. The Becker Staff was presented to the ESO at the International Symposium held in Maidstone in June 2006.
The growth of osteopathy in Europe is much due to the pioneering efforts and the generosity of sharing of the European School of Osteopathy, which in its almost 70 years of existence has become one of the leading and most innovative schools in the history of the profession