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The number of cases disposed of without reaching the
Absent, or declined the examination
reasons not communicated
Passed upon Reports from Departments*
In addition to the above, there have been several examinations for appointments not referred to by the Order in Council, to some of which allusion has already been made; viz.,
1. For Admission to the Constabulary of Ireland.
2. For the Home Civil Service of the East India Company. 3. For various Departments in Cases of Promotion.
4. For Inspectorships of Schools under the Committee of Privy
5. Upon a Transfer from the Redundant List to one of the Public Departments.
The examinations for Inspectorships have been confined to the single point of physical competence. Eleven gentlemen have been thus examined. And as regards the fifth of the above heads, there has only been one case of this description, viz,, that of a Clerk in the PaymasterGeneral's Office, who, having on account of illness been placed on the Redundant List, was permitted to return to his former position after medical examination.
The number of persons rejected in 1857 was 490; in the previous year it was 698.
The number of certificates granted in 1857 was 1,354, including 83 granted to successful competitors, and 50
* These are for the most part cases in which a candidate already in the service, having undergone a departmental examination before the date of the Order in Council, is appointed to another junior situation in the same department. In such cases, in lieu of an examination, a report is accepted from the department certifying his age, health, and character, and that he possesses the requisite knowledge and ability for the proper discharge of the duties of the office to which he is appointed.
granted without examination upon reports from the head of departments.*
In the three periods embraced by the present and two former Reports, the proportion of rejections to the number of persons examined (omitting, for the sake of a fair comparison, all competitive examinations and cases of certificates granted upon reports from departments) has
If we combine this diminution of rejection with the fact, that the number of cases in which we have certified the marked proficiency of candidates in the prescribed subjects, and also the number of cases in which we have granted certificates of proficiency to candidates in subjects beyond those which are prescribed, exhibit some increase in the year 1857, as compared with the year 1856, (notwithstanding the diminution in the number of candidates,) we are led to the conclusion that the candidates who have been examined in the year 1857 without competition have shown somewhat greater ability and acquirements than the like candidates of the previous period.
We believe that we have preserved sufficient uniformity in the standard of competency and in the nature and conduct of our non-competitive examinations to enable us to rely on this conclusion.
There is, nevertheless, still great room for improvement in the attainments of the candidates, especially as regards Orthography, the examinations in which have elicited érrors similar in kind and in frequency to those which were set forth in detail in our former Reports.
As regards the examinations in English Composition, in the framing a Précis, History and Geography,† the performances of the greater proportion of the candidates are generally below mediocrity. With respect, however, to History and Geography, although the exhibition of great ignorance in either of these subjects combined with
• See note on previous page.
†This observation is not intended to apply to those examinations in History and Geography which are prescribed for candidates for situations under the Foreign Office, and which are limited to specific text-books, and a definite period of history or a particular foreign country.
deficiencies in other parts of the examination has occasionally prevented us from granting a certificate, we have not during the last year refused a certificate to any candidate on the ground of failure in Geography alone or in History alone, unless where the candidate altogether declined the subject. We deem it necessary to make this: statement, because it has been erroneously reported that there have been instances in which a certificate has been refused to a candidate solely because of his failure to answer some particular question in Geography or History. No such instance has occurred. In point of fact, of the 490 to whom certificates have been refused during the year 1857, there are only twelve as to whom deficiencies in spelling or arithmetic have not formed one of the grounds of such refusal.
The Tables in the Appendix to this Report will show that we have not been unmindful of those portions of our duty which relate to the health and character of candidates.
We have been under the necessity of refusing our certificate in 21 cases on the ground of deficiency in health, and in 14 cases on the score of character.
In one of the latter cases the candidate was detected in conducting himself unfairly in the examination; in another, the candidate made an alteration in his baptismal certificate. On the detection of this fraud in the office of this Commission, a suggestion was made to the proper authorities that he should be prosecuted. This was accordingly done, and the offender having pleaded guilty was sentenced to a short imprisonment.
The competitive examinations of candidates for junior situations which have taken place during the past year have much exceeded in number those of the year 1856. In 1856 there were 30 such competitive examinations, in 1857 there were 68, and 22 in the present year, up to the date of this Report; the entire number from the commencement of our Commission up to the present time being 127. These competitions, however, have not been open to all persons desirous of coming forward and fulfilling the requisite conditions of age, health, and character, but have been limited to persons nominated by the authorities who have the duty of appointing to the vacant situations.
For full details of the results of these examinations we refer to the Tables in the Appendix to this Report, to which we have already adverted; but we think that it may be convenient to set forth in this portion of the body of our Report a succinct summary of these examinations and their results.
* That is, first in a competition but rejected for failure in one or more of the prescribed subjects.
That is, not first in the competition, but having shown sufficient proficiency in each of the prescribed subjects to have entitled them to certificates, if they had been nominated without competition.
In addition to the departments here enumerated, that of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will, on a future occasion, be inserted, inasmuch as his Lordship has signified to us his intention of appointing the clerks in that department by means of competitive examinations of three candidates. Two such examinations have already been held since the commencement of the present year.
The Postmaster General also has intimated that in future he will nominate more than one candidate for each clerkship in the Metropolitan Offices, with a view to the examination being competitive; and a competition of ten candidates for five clerkships has accordingly been
The first question which suggests itself with respect to the facts stated in the above Table, is whether the successful candidates in these competitions are superior to the candidates who have received certificates without competition.
We have instituted comparisons between the two classes of candidates, and we have ascertained that the best of the successful competitors have displayed higher attainments than the best of the candidates who have received certificates without competition.
It is right, however, that we should state that part of this apparent superiority may perhaps be due to the increased stimulus operating on the competing candidate during the actual examination, which compels him to put forth all his strength in order to win the race. On the other hand the defects of competitors are probably scrutinized with greater severity than those of ordinary candi dates, and their performances consequently may have been marked on a somewhat lower scale.
The next point to which we desire to call attention has reference to the number of persons thus examined, namely, 58, who although unsuccessful in the competitions showed sufficient merit to have justified us in granting certificates to them, had they been examined without competition.
It may be generally stated, that these individuals have only been excluded from the Service, because others have presented themselves who surpass them in qualifications and attainments, and the public is thus a gainer to the extent of this difference.
With reference to the number of candidates comprised in each competition, as set forth in the Appendix, Table M., it should be stated that out of 68 competitions there have been three cases in which only one candidate has been examined; one case in which two candidates only have been examined for two situations; ten cases in which only two candidates have been examined for one situation; and thirty-nine cases for which three candidates only have been examined for one situation.
The cases firstly and secondly above mentioned are not,