[Return to Home Page]


The following information is quoted from Skelley (1977):*

"In 1861 a new inducement towards learning was the army certificate of education. On the recommendation of the Council of Military Education three levels or standards were set out and were linked with promotion in the ranks. The third-class certificate specified the standard for promotion to the rank of corporal: the candidate was to read aloud and to write from dictation passages from an easy narrative, and to work examples in the four compound rules of arithmetic and the reduction of money. A second-class certificate, necessary for promotion to sergeant, entailed writing and dictation from a more difficult work, familiarity with all forms of regimental accounting, and facility with proportions and interest, fractions and averages. First-class certificates were a great deal more difficult and were required for commissions from the ranks. Successful candidates had to read and take dictation from any standard author; make a fair copy of a manuscript; demonstrate their familiarity with more complicated mathematics, except cube and square root and stocks and discount; and as well prepare for examination in at least one of a number of additional subjects. After 1887 candidates were examined in British history and geography in place of a special subject. First-class certificates were awarded on the results of periodic examinations held by the Council (later Director-General) of Military Education. Second and third-class certificates were presented on the recommendations of the Army schoolmaster. The third-class certificate of education was considered to be too high given the level of literacy of many army recruits, and the Commission+ urged the introduction of a fourth (minimum) standard."**

* SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army At Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. Mc Gill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977, p. 94, 95, and 311.
+ A Royal Commission was appointed in 1868 to enquire into the provisions for educating officers and officer candidates, with jurisdiction extended to cover the provisions for instructing the rank and file.
** The fourth-class certificate of education was abolished in 1888.