One of the reasons pupils decide to change their Driving School is because their Driving Instructor is not
Teaching them during their driving lessons.
It sounds ridiculous but can be fairly common, especially among instructors that have been teaching for a long time.
Years ago this wouldn't have seemed like such a bizarre concept because, although Driving Instructors have had a
syllabus to follow for many years, there was less pressure for them to conform to a set teaching process - getting the pupil through the driving test
was good enough.
Nowadays however, with tighter controls on Driving Instructors by the DSA, the introduction of the Theory Test and Hazard
Perception test for pupils and a more difficult practical test. Learners have higher expectations, which means that there is less chance for
instructors to simply get pupils driving to pass the test.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of driving instruction; where the teacher is not watched by anyone. There is
will always be the opportunity for instructors to 'do it their way'.
However, pupils should and do expect more than; instruction on how to operate the controls followed by hours of driving.
You will find many Driving School advertise the fact that they 'don't just teach pupils how to pass the driving test, but
how to be a safe driver for life'. This is a mantra the DSA have been pushing onto Driving Instructors for a few years now, and it is the correct
The very least parents, drivers and road users should expect from new drivers is that they are safe and responsible.
This can only come from good teaching practices. Fortunately, the training Driving Instructors undergo today pushes them towards teaching
learners a skill they can use for life.
The very purpose of the final, and most difficult Driving Instructor exam is to ensure that instructors
have the skills for good pro-active and interactive teaching.
If they pass the exam, the majority of instructors continue to use the DSA example in their 'real life'
driving lessons. In a nutshell - their pupils should be told why they are learning a subject, how to carry out what has been taught
followed by practice of what was taught.
Unfortunately, just as some learners pass the test then immediately start to resort to bad habits, so
do some Driving Instructors. A case of 'learning to pass the test'.
To try to keep Driving Instructors on track, the DSA have a few tools they use. Unfortunately, it's fairly easy
for instructors to simply pay lip service to these, if they so wish.
The main DSA tool is the Check Test where Driving Instructors are re-graded (Grades awarded are 4, 5 or 6).
This has to be re-taken every few years - the higher the grade awarded, the longer the period until the next Check Test.
The format of the check test is basically a real driving lesson. An Examiner sits in the back of the car
whilst one of the instructor's pupils is having a real lesson and marks the instructor on many different aspects of their teaching technique.
The DSA Examiner is also trained to play the role of a pupil if a Driving Instructor decides they don't want one of
their pupils taking a lesson as part of the test.
The majority of Driving Instructors should find this test easy because they are simply carrying out a normal driving
lesson. However, there is a feeling that some are simply 'playing the game'. That is, finding a skilled pupil who is happy to oblige, then briefing
them on how and what they'd like them to do during the Check Test lesson.
The Examiner goes away happy, the instructor gets a grade, everything is back to normal for a few more years.
However, please remember that the vast majority of Driving Instructors will aim to give the best standard of lesson
they can. This is because many rely on pupil recommendations - especially the independent Driving Schools.
If you have doubts that you're receiving quality driving lessons, here are a few pointers
that you should consider.
As a pupil, you should expect to learn during every lesson. You should expect to be briefed
on the more complex subjects (emerging, turns, manoeuvres, mirrors etc.). You should expect to know why you are being taught subjects and you should expect to
practice the subject you have been taught.
In reference to the amount of teaching versus driving during lessons (remember that as a pupil's driving
standard improves, more driving is inevitable). You should expect to be taught about any situation which arises that you aren't familiar
with. You should also be able to ask questions relevant to the drive and receive answers that are clear and easy to understand.
You should expect your instructor to pro-actively teach, which means, where possible, before a situation occurs,
you should be taught what to do and why you should be doing it. Letting a situation develop until it is too late and then telling the pupil off
is bad teaching practice.