If you are just starting the process of Learning to Drive then you’ll want to find a Driving Instructor to help you pass your Driving Test. But who should you choose? And what questions should you ask before committing yourself to a course of lessons?
If you are reading this article then you have probably found it using the Internet. Over the last few years this has become the primary resource for anyone starting a search for a Driving Instructor. Perhaps the biggest issue is being able to tell whether or not any Instructor you find is any good from a list of 100’s.
Of course you could also choose the driving instructor that your friends have already used and traditionally this has been the first choice for many learners. But you may have decided that option is not for you.
What to ask about your Driving Instructor
We’ve compiled a short list of the most popular questions here:
Is the instructor qualified?
Believe it or not up to 1 in 8 driving instructors are trainees (or PDIs as they are known).
When an instructor qualifies they become an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor). An instructor must by law present their ADI badge in the front windscreen of their car. If it’s a green badge then the instructor is fully qualified. If it’s a pink badge then the instructor is still in training and may not offer a high standard of teaching.
You should never accept a driving lesson from anyone who does not display either a pink or green badge. It is a criminal offence for anyone to charge for a driving lesson if they are not on the Driving Standards Agency Register of Approved Instructors.
If you are offered a lesson by unqualified instructor, you should note down the registration of the vehicle and report it to the police.
How much experience does the instructor have?
Every so often Driving Instructors are graded as to how well they teach. Most instructors will start out as a Grade Four, some will be a Grade Five and a few will have reached a Grade Six; in theory the higher the grade the better the Instructor.
Some instructors have gone on to improve their teaching and driving skills by taking further qualifications. These could include teaching people with disabilities such as dyspraxia, or perhaps involve adaptations to the instructor’s car for a range of physical disabilities.
They may also have taken further advanced driving courses from organisations like ROSPA, or the DIAmond Advanced Driving Certificate.
They may have passed a Fleet Training course which qualifies them to teach drivers after passing a test, often with eco-driving and speed awareness as a focus.
More recently the methods of teaching learners have been reassessed with some instructors using Coaching techniques. Coaching is a different style of teaching that enables the pupil to direct their learning throughout the process.
Newly qualified instructors will still be gaining experience and local knowledge of the area where they teach and this may mean that your instructor takes longer to meet your lesson objective. But your choice of instructor should really be about who you can best build rapport with.
If you have a good relationship with your instructor, you are more likely to learn quickly and enjoy your Driving Lessons more.
Should I pick a Driving School or an independent Instructor?
Increasingly many instructors have become independent or work for smaller driving schools, mainly because of the costs associated with larger franchises. Being part of a driving school may offer a few advantages such as being able to book or cancel lessons through a call centre or online. It will also give you a point of contact should you have a concern or wish to complain.
Driving Schools will often offer instructors further support and training as they develop their skills. Independent instructors may also have chosen to take further training, however it will fall to the instructor to pay for this and so they may chose to avoid any extra costs simply to keep their lesson prices lower instead.
I’ve seen some cheap prices for lessons. Is this the best deal for me?
Ask yourself, Is it a promotion that the instructor is running or are the prices permanently low?
An instructor who has a very low hourly rate is probably likely to be cutting corners, either with the way they teach or perhaps the tuition vehicle.
A much lower price than any other instructor should raise your suspicions. Most instructors charge very similar rates, but some may offer a deal when you pay for a block of lessons in advance, or include other extras such as a theory test package or practical test fee with a course of lessons.
You may also be attracted by a voucher promotion you’ve purchased on a discount website. if you pick up one of these to get you started it gives you a chance to try out with an instructor before committing you to buying a course of lessons.
Let’s face it we all like a good deal, but what you should be asking is: Am I getting a good deal from a good instructor?
Driving Lessons offer you a skill for life and ultimately taking driving lessons from a better instructor will equip you better once you have passed your test. You will be less likely to be involved in an accident if you have been taught properly and this can save £100’s in excesses, and increased insurance bills.
How will I be taught?
A course of driving lessons should always be structured and should take you through a range of skills needed for driving. Your instructor should agree the objective at the start of each lesson and you should have a brief discussion of the main points you have learned at the end.
We all have an individual style of learning, some of us are better at the practical side of doing things, where other pupils may need a better explanation before practising a new skill. A good instructor should ask a few open questions to help them determine the best style of learning for you.
Most instructors will also record your progress throughout your lessons, this will help them determine what skills you have covered and what skills you still need further practice on. Some instructors will use a scale from 1 to 5 depending on how well you have demonstrated any particular skill. At the highest level you should be able to drive in a range of traffic and road conditions without any assistance from your instructor.
If your instructor is simply giving you directions and only telling you what you are doing wrong, it is likely that you will end up needing further lessons and have a negative view of your experience.
When will I be ready for my test?
Pupils often want to take a test as soon as they have mastered the basics of driving and completed their manoeuvres, often feeling that their instructor is simply trying to make more money out of them.
Of course this can happen, but the best way to assess your ability to pass a Driving Test is by completing a Mock Test first. This can save you a considerable amount of money in having to take extra tests and increase your chances of passing first time.
On average pupils take more than two tests in order to pass, and require around 45 hours of tuition from an instructor plus getting around 20 hours of private practice.
Most Instructors won’t charge any extra for sitting a mock practical test, it will also give you a better understanding of what to expect on the day.
Some instructors may even pay for a 2nd test if you pass a mock test first. This could save you quite a bit of money too!
Starting your search
Hopefully this article will have given you a head start in what to look for in a Driving Instructor.
Teachmeto DRIVE offers a great way to find and compare local instructors covering your area. It also offers testimonials from past pupils and may even present you with a voucher to get you started with a particular instructor.
It’s free to search the website and you’ll only be sent details of instructors who are fully qualified to teach learners.
So find your Driving Instructor in your area now