Now why would I chose this subject?

Well, simply because I see regularly, internet pages which interpret acronyms wrongly {forums mainly, one of which is the Ganges Association Forum} and there is nothing on the internet to give a joined-up understanding as to how one got into the navy and once in, how one got promoted.

Jumping ahead, take the acronym NAMET for example.  One naval forum shows it as 'Naval and Marines Education Test', and another as 'Naval Advancement Mathematics and English Test'. Both wrong, but the readers of those Forums write to, and believe anything from them as being gospel. NAMET stands for Naval [NA] Mathematics and English Test but more of that later.

The overall subject is complicated and I will make no attempt to cover every rule for every occasion.

The subject can broadly be divided into three primary functions, but one of them, namely that for officers, is further divided. They are the recruiting education for:-

  a. officers - by the start of the 21st century, all officers, including officers in the RFA Service trained at Dartmouth, the first RFA officer course passing out in December 2002.  
  b. artificers  
  c. ratings  

First then, officers.

The normal route was to enter the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and to get there a candidate needed to shown his HSC <Higher School Certificate>.  As the title suggests, this was the top grade academic pass-out from secondary education given by grammar schools, technical colleges and some private high schools. Those with lesser marks but still assumed to have passed-out correctly, were given a SC <School Certificate>. Non of this was possible if one attended a Secondary Modern School where the best one could hope for was a good final report signed by the headmaster. The HSC, ergo the SC had been issued for many years before the war and had itself taken over from the Matriculation Certificates the parents of these 1946 candidates would have received. However, at the start of the 1950's, the HSC/SC had run their courses, and in 1951 they were replaced with a General Certificate of Education Advanced level <GCE[A]> and by a General Certificate of Education Ordinary level <GCE[O]> respectively: later on, a Certificate of Secondary Education <CSE> was added for those who had failed the 'A' and 'O' level examinations.  A Dartmouth candidate required at least two GCE[A] grades and if neither had the word English in their titles, a GCE[O] in English Language also.  Very few officers in those days had a university degree although attending Dartmouth was considered to be comparable.  Dartmouth and general naval training throughout an officers career was all that was required to get to the very top, to be an admiral of the fleet, although many officers acquired higher formal education standards by their own means and efforts.

For part of this period, commissioned officers were divided into further groups for career purposes and each group required different educational standards. The main group of officers were called the GENERAL LIST and all career officers of all branches belonged to this group. This was followed by the INSTRUCTORS LIST and the SUPPLEMENTARY LIST. All aspired to belong to the general list executive branch [the Seaman Branch] for they alone had stripes with no coloured cloth between them:  in days gone by, they alone wore the curl in their top stripe and all other officers had 'straight' stripes. Later on, all officers, notwithstanding their branch [except for the medical branches] ceased using the colour cloth which denoted their non-executive branch {white for supply officers, green for electrical officers, blue for instructor officers etc}. The educational qualifications for the General List Engineering Branches [mechanical, electrical and air] were the same or better than for the Seamen [Executive] General List, requiring sciences at GCE[A] level, or an HND <Higher National Diploma> with GCE[A] levels or a university degree. The requirement for the Instructor Officer was usually a university degree. Instructor Officers were employed on many duties in the navy from meteorology, to teaching complex technical subjects as well as teaching sailors the GCE syllabus.  The Supplementary List were short commissions <requiring at least four GCE[O] levels> and were offered in various branches including the Fleet Air Arm where they would be trained as rotary wing pilots but not fixed wing pilots: after their short service <four years> they were paid a gratuity. Later on in this period, many officers joined Dartmouth with GCE[A] level grade and went to university from Dartmouth with the navy paying their fees. On returning to the navy full time, they had to give a return of service back, a quid pro quo usually of four to five years. By changing over to General List, Supplementary Officers could guarantee a service pension after a minimum of sixteen years service but it was very hard to do. Thus, as expected, the officer corps, irrespective of what branch or list they would chose, required a reasonable to good education on joining the service.

Not that it really affects officers [except for those with GCE[A] levels but none of them in English Language when a GCE[O] level in that subject is required with science GCE[A] levels], but in 1986, the GCE[O] level and the CSE were dropped and supplanted by the General Certificate of Secondary Education <GCSE> when good grades equated to the now old GCE[O] level and bad grades to the now old CSE.

Secondly, Artificers

The navy wanted young bright scholars to undertake a long and academic based apprenticeship.  Artificers were to be found in many branches and they were not unnaturally, the highest paid and highest qualified ratings in the Royal Navy, having their own mess and privileges. Their recruitment was relatively easy and their numbers came from boy's holding, as a minimum, the School Certificate, then the GCE[O] level and finally [1986 onwards] a GCSE top grade certificate. Many came from technical colleges with a sizeable group coming from grammar schools and some had Higher School Certificates/GCE[A] levels but for other reasons, were unsuitable for officer training. As you will see, there was a later opportunity for them to get to the upper deck and wardroom: Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux deceased, recently murdered onboard the Submarine Astute joined as an artificer apprentice when aged 16 but was soon recognised as being wardroom material.  Some of course joined as adults and usually came from a background of civil engineering with hands-on experience.  Their school qualifications were less important than their experience and skills though of course still relevant.

Thirdly, non Artificer Ratings

Certainly, from 1946 until 1972 [when the school leaving age went out to age 16 instead of 15] statistics show that the vast amount of ratings in this category joined the navy, either as boys, juniors or as adults without any scholastic qualifications. They had the good final report signed by the headmaster or the CSE and had managed to pass a very simple academic test at the recruiting office. From 1973 onwards youngsters were joining with GCSE but with relatively low grades although there were exceptions.

Until 1962, the only tests available to ratings in this category were the ET1 {Educational Test 1 - basic maths and English problems to solve}, ET1 Technical {Basic science and physics problems to solve}, ET2 {Educational Test 2 - more advanced maths, English and science problems to solve} and the HET {Higher Educational Test - equivalent to a GCE[O] level with various grades}. Adult ratings sat the ET1 examination which was the only mandatory academic examination and would take them to the rate of Leading Hand. Further advancement up to an including chief petty officer required no additional educational qualification.  Boys/Juniors on the other hand were grouped under two headings depending upon their joining academic ability and intelligence. Those with good scores were called 'AC Boys/Juniors meaning <Advanced Class> and those not so bright, were called 'GC Boys/Juniors meaning <General Class>. Later, because of poor recruitment material, the GC Group was further split into 'Upper' and 'Lower', and the academic ability of the boy/junior at the bottom of a GC[L] class must have been very low indeed. All 'AC Boys/Juniors [assuming that they passed their Naval School Examination] were automatically exempted the ET1/ET1 Technical examinations so they were already academically qualified for CPO whilst still in basic training [AFO869/48].  They could, if they wished, take the ET2 examination and if they passed, they were advanced to their next promotion when due [and thus more pay] quicker than if they had not taken it.   GC [U] and GC[L] boys/juniors on the other hand had to sit and pass the ET1 examinations after leaving basic training. After the rate of CPO came the warrant rank/chief warrant rank/commissioned warrant officer rank, and for these each branch had its own set of rules. In this thumbnail below, we see the educational rules for the Communications Branch as they were in 1947. Almost as soon as the scene was set in the thumbnail below, the title was changed from Signal Bosun and Warrant Telegraphist under AFO4190/47 to Warrant  Communication Officer. Two years later in 1949 the rank of warrant communication officer was abandoned and replaced by the Branch Officer and these men became C.C.O's [Commissioned Communication Officers] with a " stripe.  They in turn could be promoted to be a S.C.C.O [Senior CCO] and he wore a " stripe. Running concurrent with the administrative change over from warrant to branch officer was an increase in the educational standards required which eventually became four HET level successes for Communicator's, and this standard was continued when the Branch Officer was abandoned in favour of the Special Duties List [Communications] Officer in 1956/7, but on first changing over these warrant officers from Signal Bosun/Warrant Telegraphist to warrant communication officers, they required a second class HET with compulsory subjects being English and Navigation [AFO 869/48].  At the 1956/7 change over to SD Officers, the CCO automatically became a sub lieutenant [S/Lt SD{C}] and the SCCO automatically a lieutenant [Lt SD{C}].

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Of great interest at this point in our history is the issue of Admiralty General Message [AGM] 726A of 24th December 1947. This called for volunteers from Chief Yeoman of Signals for transfer to Aircraft Handler.  The mind boggles at this, but such was the over bearing of communicators and the under bearing of the fleet air arm.

In 1962, a new test was introduced which was called the ETLR [Education Test for Leading Rate] which supplanted ET1/ET1 Technical and ET2.  HET remained as before. The name of the test was misleading because passing it qualified one academically for the CPO rate as well as for the Leading Rate. It is said that they took 40% of ET1, mixed it with 40% of ET1 Technical and 20% of ET2 to produce ETLR: jokes flew around to say that those who passed the ETLR thought those constituent parts were 40 + 40 + 10, such was the academic mathematical ability.  It was not at all successful and produced a pass or a fail mentality, but no grades so no different to the ET1/ET2 test.  The end product was poor and the fleet rebelled. Three short years later in 1965 under DCI[RN]2/65 it had gone and was replaced by NAMET, remember NAVAL Mathematics and English Test which had the necessary grades desired by the fleet. NAMET because of the system and range of questions used and the grades achieved, not only took one on to CPO but under DCI[RN]4/66 [EI No 138] a grade of NAMET 2-2 {Grade 2 in both Maths and English} would qualify you to be a Supplementary List Upper Yardman in the seaman and S&S branches, or with a NAMET 1-1 {Grade 1 in both Maths and English} followed by 4 GCE[O] levels you could become an Upper Yardman Engineer in the Supplementary List.  The age range for becoming an Upper Yardman was 19-24 for Supplementary List or up to age 21 for a General List Upper Yardman.

That deals with qualification for recruiting with a bit of commission from the lower deck [Upper Yardman] thrown in only because we were talking about NAMET.

Now, with the Dartmouth officers and the Tiffies looked after, let's now look at the ways and means academically of getting to the wardroom from the mess deck.

HET, which we have frequently mentioned above, is a graded examination which equates with the GCE[O] grading system, but with a slight difference which we will mention but thereafter not bother about. The GCE[O] graded with letters ABC grades etc whereas the HET graded with numerals 123 etc. Grades 1&2 were equal to an 'A', Grades 3&4 to a 'B' and Grades 5&6 to a 'C'.

There was an enormous gulf between the academic requirements needed to step inside the wardroom as a mess member. To become a Schoolie [an Instructor Officer] one had to be under the age of 31 and needed a whole pile of qualification including two GCE[A] levels plus GCE[O] level English.  To become an SD Supply Officer from either of the 'COOK BRANCHES' you needed just two HET's one being English.

What follows are just three jpeg thumbnails showing the Educational Test of of the mid 1960's and the ways of getting from the lower deck to the wardroom by academic prowess. It doesn't take account of all the other qualifications and recommendations needed to add to the Certificates.

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Educational Tests including NAMET Rating to Officer part 1 Rating to Officer Part 2

After 1970 [the first FCPO's were promoted in 1972].  FCPO's [today's WO's] had to have two GCE[O]/2 HET to be selected.

Hope that you enjoyed the ride and that your service career is perhaps now much clearer to you after all these years?