Why To Hire and Why To Fire A Driving Instructor
Are you looking for a driving instructor? Or maybe you are upset about your current one and craving more positive and effective learning? Anyway, the quality of tuition your instructor is capable of providing is one of the keys to your success at the driving test. When it comes down to searching for a qualified, reliable and safe driving instructor, there is no need to rush it. The aim of this post is to brief you on some musts when choosing a good driving instructor.
ADI vs. PDI - Should Your Driving Instructor Be Fully Qualified?
For starters, any learner driver must know what the abbreviations above stand for. ADI is an Approved Driving Instructor. This qualification means a person has passed exams to be a professional driving instructor and is registered with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). ADIs display their green licence (octagon) on the windscreen of their tuition vehicles.
PDI stands for Potential Driving Instructor. They are licensed instructors under training who are allowed by the DSA to provide training for payment. PDIs must display their pink licence (triangle) on the windscreen of their tuition vehicles.
In order to get a pink badge the trainee driving instructor has to pass parts 1 & 2 (a theory test and a driving test that is the same as the learners test but one they have to pass with fewer minor faults than a standard learner) of the DSA instructor examination and have done at least 40 hours ADI training. Then they must do a further 20 hours training shortly after the badge is issued. Part 3 of the exam is a practical driving test that assesses the trainee's instructional ability.
In my opinion, the only advantage to hiring a PDI instructor, is that the price of the lesson should be cheaper. However, this may well prove to be a false economy. Currently, the DSA is considering banning PDIs from being able to provide driving lessons for payment. So, would you choose a PDI over an ADI?
The Cost of A Driving Lesson
The majority of learners start shopping for driving lessons with this question in mind. This approach actually turns your shopping into looking for the cheapest option. But if you want to find a good driving instructor, that option would not suit you at all. You should run away from two extremes – overpriced driving lessons and under priced “special offers”.
The prices charged for lessons can differ widely. The South East of the UK is the most expensive. Driving tuition here can cost up to £25 per hour. The average across the country is around £22 per hour driving lesson. If the price is cheaper make sure you ask whether the instructor giving the driving lesson is fully qualified. They may not be, hence the low price of the lessons.
Driving instructors, or any business for that matter, tend to charge what they can afford to charge. So, if an instructor charges £28 or more per lesson, a price at the higher end of the scale, does this not reflect quality of their tuition and their reputation? Personally, in today's market, I think it does.
Cheap Driving Lessons
Don't be fooled by overly cheap driving lessons. Some driving schools may offer cheap introductory offers such as ten hours driving tuition for £50. These prices don't always add up. Remember cheap in, expensive out. They pull you in with a cheap deal but then you find yourself advised to have more tuition, at the standard rate, than you actually need. All driving schools need to make a profit. You won't get something for nothing.
Quality over quantity. 30 hours of lessons at £20 an hour is cheaper than 40 hours of lessons at £17 per hour. As I say, driving instructors have to earn a reasonable living, they have to pay the bills. If an instructor told you you needed several more lessons before you were likely to pass your test would you take their advice? You probably would, but what if the real motive was to compensate for the cheap lesson prices?
In order to earn a living instructors who offer overly cheap lessons need to work exceedingly long hours. This means long hours in control of a car, often with little in the way of proper breaks. Is this safe? Does it affect their ability to teach? Do these long hours spent chasing a livable wage mean the ADI can keep up-to-date with all current training standards as set out by the DSA? They also need to reduce their business costs I.E. use less petrol, which means less driving for the learner taking the lesson.
Driving instructors offering cheap lessons do so because they do not have the teaching skills to charge more. They are likely to offer poor teaching standards with little or no knowledge of how to teach to the needs of each learner. Their lessons will be of the 'one size fits all' variety, which is fine if you fit that size perfectly, not so if you are a unique individual.
There is no such thing as pass guarantee. However, it is wise to ask your potential driving instructor about his or her driving test pass rate. Of course, you have no way of checking whether quoted pass rate is true. Yet, it is a good way of spotting a driving instructor who makes unreliable statements. The national driving test pass rate is 45.65%. So if your driving instructor is able to provide anything near this figure, you are in good hands.
What Grade Is The Instructor?
Driving Instructors used to be graded 1 to 6
Asking a driving instructor about his or her grade is one of the best ways to assess their competence. Every four years ADIs are tested by the DVSA for the quality of their driving tuition. For a number of years, a six point scale was used to grade instructors, although this has been replaced with a new system many driving instructors have yet to be tested under this new system so continue to be graded using the six point scale.
The six point scale grades instructors as follows:
- Grade 4 - the driving instructor is competent (52.44%)
- Grade 5 - the driving instructor is good (33.49%)
- Grade 6 - the driving instructor has reached a very high standard (6.15%)
An instructor who is grade 1 to 3 is still a trainee (PDI) and has yet to fully qualify.
The new scale grades instructors as Grade A or Grade B:
- Grade A - the instructor has shown a high standard of instruction and can stay on the ADI register.
- Grade B - the instructor can stay on the approved driving instructors register.
If on the test the instructor fails to meet the Grade B standard they fail the test. They are then given two more chances to make the grade. if they fail, they are removed from the ADI register and so can no longer work as an ADI.
We have covered four basic things to consider while choosing a driving instructor. Although qualification, driving lesson cost, pass rate and instructor’s grade are all very important and relevant choice factors, personal feel is crucial. Your driving instructor can be a 6-grade ADI with the highest pass rate, but if you don’t seem to hit it off well, you probably need to try another one.
Questions To Ask The Driving School
- What is your grade?
- How long have you been a driving instructor?
- Have you had any previous teaching or coaching roles?
- What type of structured learning programme would you follow?
- Will you help me plan a programme of private practice?
- Block booking student discount rates.
- Pass rate - what percentage of your pupils pass their driving test against those who fail?
- Door to door service - will the instructor pick you up before the lesson then drop you off once finished?
- Full hour lesson - will the lesson last a full hour or whatever duration you've paid for?
- One to one tuition - just pupil and driving instructor in the car during the lesson? No other pupil in the back watching.
- Does the driving school charge for use of the car during the driving test and if so, how much?
- Do they offer free theory test tuition?
- What is the standard one hour lesson price?
- Has the driving school signed the voluntary Code of Practice. This code of practice, drawn up by the DSA and learner driver industry, provides a framework in which all driving schools and instructors should operate. It covers instructors' personal and professional conduct, driving schools advertising and their complaints procedure. A leaflet outlining the code is available from any theory test or driving test centre or call the DSA: 0115 9012500. Code of Practice details.
See our driving schools glossary to understand the terms used by driving schools and instructors.
What makes A Good Instructor?
A quality instructor should always:
- Give an outline of the course
- Arrive on time for your lessons
- Behave professionally
- Help you train for your theory test
- Recap on your previous lesson
- Explain what you are going to do at the start of the lesson
- Explain things in simple and understandable terms
- Demonstrate when you don't understand
- Assess your progress and give you feedback
- Praises you when you get things right
- Help you understand when you get things wrong
- Fills in your progress card or logbook for each lesson
- Allow you to ask questions
- Tell you what to study before the next lesson
Can You Trust Website Ratings?
There are websites that show ratings for driving schools. These ratings are meant to be honest and objective, given by pupils who have actually used the school or instructor. However, can you trust these ratings? Put simply, no. They are incredibly easy to manipulate.
Reasons To Fire Your Driving Instructor
Getting your driving license is not an easy ride. While you can self-educate on the theory, it seems unlikely you can play the same trick with your practical driving test. To pass it successfully, you will need to find an approved driving instructor (ADI), and a good one at that. And this is the point where you should be particularly careful about your choice.
Finding an ADI is as easy as pie today. You can simply look into your local paper or surf the web. So you phone around until you think you’ve met a suitable fellow. Not the cheapest, mind you, because undervalued hourly rate will possibly mean a substandard service. Nice chat on the phone doesn’t necessarily mean the guy on the other end is as good at teaching as he is at selling.
The real testing comes during your lessons. Below are five main reasons why you should sack that nice guy before you lose your money and hope to pass your driving test successfully.
Is your ADI shouting at you? Is he losing his temper every time you make a minor mistake? If so, don’t be frustrated with yourself. You pay for being trained, and training includes making mistakes. Shouting teacher has never been a good one. You are not going to pay for being shouted at, aren’t you?
Not Enough Driving
How much driving is enough? Don’t expect you get under the wheel right away. At your first lessons, you are going to drive for about half of your lesson time. By approximately hour ten you should be driving all lesson long. If somehow you drive less than that, you are not getting value for your money.
Good ADI always keeps track of his learner’s progress. Getting feedback is crucial for learners so they can get an idea of how well they are doing and what are their weaknesses. It is also crucial for ADI because this helps him focus on a learner’s problems instead of simply completing lesson plans.
Mobile Phone Chatter
If your ADI keeps chatting on their hands-free mobile phone all the time, just run away. You are charged an hourly rate so his mobile phone use robs you out of time you pay for. In addition, it interrupts and interferes with learning process, let alone takes your attention off the road. Of course, if your instructor was to use a mobile phone without a hands-free set-up during a lesson, then they would be breaking the law, and you should demand the lesson is stopped immediately and that your payment for the lesson is refunded.
Once you drove your ADI to a shopping centre or a bank. But then you start getting this uncomfortable feeling your ADI is using driving lessons to go about his business. You are doing the driving all right, but as your teacher does his shopping, the paid time is ticking away.