HC Deb 27 February 1891 vol 350 cc1835-6
SIR H. ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that it has been stated that, in the competitive examinations for admission to Woolwich and Sandhurst conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners, the maximum number of marks allotted to the various subjects are, in effect, not adhered to; whether he is aware that public attention has recently been, drawn to this by the conference of head masters, in regard to Woolwich, in the following terms:— The mark assigned as the maximum for subjects nominally of equal value is very illusory. It is not the maximum assigned but the average mark attainable that decides the choice of subjects, and at present the proportional weight assigned to different subjects is very unequal. For example, it will be found that during the last five or six years the average percentages of the maximum obtained by successful candidates are 34.06 in Latin, 29.15 in Greek, 38.7 in French. 35.8 in German, 28.65 in Experimental Science; and whether, if these statements are correct, he will undertake that in future the highest mark attainable in each subject shall be raised to the allotted maximum of that subject, as is usual in other examinations, so that the relative value of the several subjects shall remain that indicated in the regulations?


The Civil Service Commissioners, who conduct the examinations for Woolwich and Sandhurst, inform me that the highest number of marks allotted to any subject is, and always has been, attainable by the candidates. Every care is taken by the examiners to mark answers on all subjects in the same ratio to absolute accuracy, though the process presents great difficulty. It has been found, however, that the average knowledge of some subjects exceeds that of others; and, without expressing any opinion as to the accuracy of the figures quoted from the head masters, it may be admitted that Greek and physical science have been at the bottom of the list as regards proficiency. The percentage of the maximum obtained in experimental science is, nevertheless, gradually advancing. During the last five years its average has equalled that for Latin, and last year the percentage exceeded it.