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FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR
Great driving instructors are key ingredient to learning to drive, so if you are looking for one and want amazing results, make sure that you take your time and do not rush the process. Finding the right driving instructor can make all the difference. Do your research before making a final decision. Choose wisely and with confidence. Make a shortlist of skilled driving instructors in your area and start evaluating them carefully one by one. This way, you can be sure that you will find a driving instructor that is right for you and won’t end up paying more or learning for longer than you need to.
There are several things to take into consideration while choosing a driving instructor, read on for our top tips that will help you make the right choice.
To ensure that you’re getting the best instruction possible, look for an experienced, skilled and professionally trained driving instructor who is approved and registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) and potential driving instructors with a trainee licence (PDIs) are the only people who can charge a fee to give driving lessons.
All DVSA-registered driving instructors must display their registration certificate on the windscreen of the vehicle being used for a driving lesson: ADIs must display a green badge and trainee instructors a pink badge.
To become an approved driving instructor and join the register held by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, driving instructors must pass challenging theory and practical tests. All ADIs are subject to regular standards check conducted by DVSA. To remain on the ADI register, driving instructors must reach and maintain the standards of driving and instructional ability required by the DVSA. They are also encouraged by DVSA to take continuing professional development (CPD). This is voluntary training ADIs can take to keep their skills up to date. What this all means is that they are fully equipped with all the latest information and expertise they need to help you gain the skills, knowledge and understanding required to pass your test and become a safe and responsible driver.
Driving instructors are given one of the following grades after their standards check:
A grade (85% or over) – an overall high standard of instruction
B grade (60% or over) – a sufficient level of competence
Fail (less than 60%) – an unsatisfactory performance
To make a more informed decision when choosing a driving instructor, you can ask them what their grade is, but remember, just because they are qualified, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the right type of driving instructor for you. Do your research before making a final decision.
Reputation is what people generally think about everything a company (driving school, driving instructor) does. Building a good reputation takes time and effort and it’s very valuable. It builds trust. No one wants to waste their time and money, so people pay close attention to what others say about their experiences or people they’re interested in. If your driving instructor’s strong reputation precedes them, it will be for all of the right reasons. Chances are they have trained and helped many learner drivers to pass their practical driving test before you.
Before you decide who you want to learn to drive with, do your research, try to find the right driving instructor from recommendations, whether personal (from people you trust, such as your friends or relatives, who’ve recently passed their driving test and are now safe, confident drivers) or check their social media page and website for feedback from previous learners. Listen to what they have to say and take their opinions into consideration when choosing your tutor but remember that people are different, and they often require and respond to different teaching methods; just because your best mate or sibling breezed through their practical driving test with a certain driving instructor, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be best suited to you too… Ask if you can take a free trial driving lesson to see if the recommended driving instructor is the right fit for you.
The pass rate (the percentage of pupils who ultimately pass their practical test) is another factor that you may need to put into consideration. A high pass rate is usually considered indicative of quality teaching. It’s a good guide but don’t base choosing your driving instructor on this alone. It’s difficult to prove and not necessarily a good measure of the quality of instruction. Pass rates on their own might be misleading. If a driving instructor counts all the test passes into their pass rate, regardless of whether their pupils passed first time, second time or fifth time, then their overall pass rate will be high indeed. It’s important to understand the context surrounding any figures you’re given, so when asking for a driving instructor’s pass rate, ask if these statistics are for first time test passes only.
It is difficult to know if they are the right driving instructor for you until you actually have a lesson with them, so before you commit to anything, try them out first and see how it goes. It’s a good idea to book a trial lesson with two or three different driving instructors before settling on your preferred one. How well it all goes is largely down to communication between you and your instructor. Good communication is crucial to successful learning, so it’s important for the both of you to be able to discuss points of concern easily. Especially if you’re going to be spending a lot of time together. This is a great opportunity to ask them a number of questions relating to their tuition, driving course, driving test, whatever is important to you, to assess their suitability as well as discuss your training requirements. All driving instructors should be happy to answer all your questions.
There are many driving schools and instructors in the UK, so it’s not easy to establish a good one from a bad one. When looking for the right tutor, there are some questions you should ask that will help you decide whether any driving instructor you’re thinking of working with will be the right one for the job. All instructors should be happy to answer them all. Don’t be afraid to be direct- ask them about their prices, qualifications, experience, track record, their teaching methods etc. Make a list of things that are important to you before you make contact.
Here are some questions you may want to ask before choosing your driving instructor:
What is your standards check grade?
What is your pass rate amongst your students?
Do you know what your first time pass rate is?
How many years have you been teaching people to drive?
What car do you run?
Can you tell me more about your successes in teaching?
Do you offer post-test driving experiences such as motorway or Pass Plus training?
Are you available to teach in the evenings or at weekends?
Do you support private practice? Will you help me plan a programme and give advice, worksheets, resources etc. for whoever I’ll be practising with?
Do you offer discounts for block bookings?
Could I have a taster lesson (for free or at a discount) before committing to regular lessons?
What is your cancellation policy? If I need to cancel a lesson, will I be charged for it?
Why should I choose you over the other driving instructors, especially cheaper ones?
What are your teaching methods? Do you create individual lesson plans?
Will you pick me up before the driving lesson and drop me off once finished? Can you pick me up from a different location: after school, work or college?
Do you have knowledge of local driving test routes?
If you live in a big town or city, you’ll probably find there are a lot of good driving instructors near you. However, your options may be more limited if you live in a more rural area. In that case, don’t be afraid to look further. Try to find a driving instructor that is the right fit for you in the next town or village. ‘Driving instructor near you’ doesn’t have to mean near your home address. You can search for an instructor close to your school, college, university or work. Whatever is more convenient for you and fits into your busy schedule. And when you do find some potential candidates for the job, it’s worth asking how long they have been working in the area, as their knowledge and understanding of the local roads can have a big impact on your learning progress. It’s also worth considering having driving lessons in your chosen driving test centre area, so you can familiarise yourself with all the roads in and around it. This will improve your confidence and reduce the chances of being caught out by an unfamiliar road layout on the day of your driving test.
Before you start looking for a driving instructor and embark on your driving lessons, you need to decide which type of car you want to learn to drive and take your practical driving test in: a manual car (these have 3 pedals) or an automatic one (2 pedals).
It’s important to remember that going for an automatic car to take your test in may limit your choice when it comes to buying or renting a car in the future – an automatic car driving licence won’t entitle you to drive a manual car once you’ve passed your test. If you want or need to drive a manual later on – you’ll have to upgrade your automatic licence by passing a driving test in a manual car. If you decide to take your test in a manual car, you will be legally allowed to drive an automatic car as well. This means no further driving tests and much wider variety of options in the future.
It’s worth bearing in mind that:
- finding a local automatic driving instructor may be quite a challenge
- automatic driving lessons typically cost more than manual lessons
- cars with automatic gearbox are more expensive to buy, whether new or second-hand
- automatic cars are more expensive to get repaired and serviced than cars with a manual gearbox
If for whatever reason you’re struggling with the clutch and gears in a ‘manual’ car, learning to drive in an ‘automatic’ one could be a better solution and could get you on the road faster. While a manual transmission (gearbox) requires the driver to change between gears (using the gear stick and clutch pedal) as the car’s speed increases or decreases, an automatic transmission manages the gear changes for you. There is no clutch pedal, so you won’t have to worry about getting the biting point of the clutch and acceleration right or whether you’re in the ‘right gear’. Compared to manual cars, those with an automatic gearbox are easier to use and require less effort, which comes in really handy on congested roads or when driving on hills, for example. It offers a smoother, less complicated and more relaxed driving experience.
Irrespective of what type of gearbox you go for, manual or automatic, make sure that your chosen driving instructor’s car is fitted with dual-control pedals on the passenger side, giving the instructor control of the car, as well as you.
As far as ‘fashion’ is concerned, yes, it would be amazing to learn to drive in a high-end car, but this is not as important as getting a great driving instructor, so try to treat it as a bonus, not a must. Great instructors can deliver compelling driving lessons in any car. Bear in mind that if you choose to go for a driving instructor with a ‘cool’ car, you may find they will charge you more for your driving lessons to cover their costs.
If you’d like to learn to drive in the sort of car that you might buy after you pass your driving test – Vauxhalls, Fords, Peugeots, Nissans or Minis – it’s worth checking with driving schools near you if they can provide your preferred make and model of car for you to have your driving lessons in.
Price is an important factor to consider when searching for professional driving lessons but don’t be tempted to go straight for the cheapest. Cheaper is not always better. If a driving instructor’s hourly rate is considerably lower than other instructors in the area, you need to ask yourself why.
Choosing the right driving instructor is crucial to learning to drive and passing the driving test, so make sure you don’t base your decision solely on price. If you want great quality of tuition, you may need to pay a little more for it. The best driving instructors are in high demand, hence they’re very busy (many of them even run waiting lists), the worst ones are not. Good driving instructors know their value and will charge for their driving lessons accordingly. They won’t need to reduce their price as their experience, knowledge and skills are worth more money. If you go for the cheapest, don’t be surprised if you get what you pay for. The driving lessons may be half the price but if it takes you twice as long to pass, is it really worth it?
Never pay for a block of lessons up front until you are completely happy to do so. Take a few lessons with your chosen driving instructor first, try them out, see how it goes and then decide whether it’s worth it.
Remember that you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time with your chosen driving instructor so it’s important that you find someone you can trust and feel safe and comfortable with. This will make the whole process of learning to drive much easier, quicker and more enjoyable as you won’t feel stressed or anxious every time you get behind the wheel with them next to you. You want your driving lessons to be a great experience, something you’re looking forward to, not dreading.
We’ve all heard horror stories about driving instructors shouting and swearing at their pupils or belittling them for making mistakes. Not to mention some serious inappropriate behaviour ranging from using sexualised language, unnecessary physical contact, through to inappropriate messages or images being sent to students. This sort of behaviour is extremely unprofessional, disrespectful and totally unacceptable. Shouting, berating, and demeaning learner drivers may increase their stress, make them feel humiliated, destroy their confidence and cause them to make dangerous mistakes while on the road. Learning to drive can be a stressful, time-consuming and immensely expensive experience but it shouldn’t be a traumatic one! So, whoever you choose to teach you to drive, it is extremely important to make sure they are right for you.
A good instructor will be calm, patient and supportive, as well as knowledgeable when it comes to both operating a vehicle and a full understanding of the rules of the road. As everyone learns differently and progresses at different rates, it is the ADI’s responsibility to specifically tailor their driving lessons to each individual’s needs and abilities. You want a driving instructor who creates individual lesson plans. They should be able to identify the way that you learn best and adapt their teaching methods to fit your individual learning style. This will have a huge impact on whether or not you learn quickly and successfully.
Good ADI will keep track of your progress and give you regular feedback on what you are doing well and what may need improving. Good feedback is an essential part of the learning process as it allows you critically analyse and reflect upon your skills, strengths and weaknesses and help to plan how you can develop them and learn from the experience. It empowers you to become a safe and competent driver.
A responsible, professional driving instructor will be focused on more than just getting you through your practical driving test. They will help you develop safe driving skills for life.
Remember, whoever you choose to teach you how to drive, you don’t have feel obliged to stick with them forever. If you start your driving lessons and feel it’s not working for whatever reason, don’t be afraid to put your driving lessons on hold and look for a new driving instructor. There’s nothing wrong with this. You’re paying for a professional service and if you’re not happy with it, then the obvious choice is to look elsewhere. This will save you time and money in the long run.
There are so many things to consider when looking for the perfect driving instructor to get you on the road. Some of the obvious ones include how much they charge for their tuition, what car they use for driving lessons and what their location is. For some learner drivers, however, GENDER is also a big factor when searching for a driving instructor. Not everyone wants to be taught how to drive by a male driving instructor, some learner drivers prefer their driving instructor to be a female, for a number of reasons. It all comes down to people’s personal needs, requirements and preferences.
You are free to choose a driving instructor of either gender. Whether you’d rather learn to drive with a male or female driving instructor, it’s completely up to you. If you think you’ll feel more comfortable learning with a female driving instructor, go for it, use our search engine and look for fully qualified female ADIs. Likewise, if you think being taught to drive by a male driving instructor might work better for you, search for male ADIs.
Remember, it is vitally important to choose a driving instructor that best fits your needs as this can make the difference between passing your driving test first time and spending a small fortune retaking it over and over again. Use our NDP Driving Instructors Near Me search engine to make sure that you’ve got a complete list of the Approved Driving Instructors (male and female) in your area.
If English (or Welsh) isn’t your first language and you’d prefer to learn with a driving instructor who speaks your native language to make the whole learning to drive experience easier for you, search for driving schools and instructors offering driving lessons in languages other than English or Welsh. Remember though, you’ll have to take your theory and practical driving tests in English or Welsh.
Driving test candidates’ access to foreign language voiceovers and interpreters on theory and practical driving tests was withdrawn on 7 April 2014.
Hopefully this guide has provided you with some valuable insight into what to look for from your driving instructor, so when you start searching for one, consider the above-mentioned factors and you are more than likely to find a driving instructor that is the right fit for you. Just remember to choose carefully and not settle for second best.
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