Become an Approved Drivng Instructor
Becoming an approved driving instructor
‘This chapter will help you to discover whether you are suited to becoming a driving instructor and what is involved.’ Are you sure you want to become an approved driving instructor (ADI)?
The first step is to find out whether you will make a good driving instructor and whether this career is for you. Many readers will have done their homework and will know exactly what becoming a driving instructor involves. Others may not have looked at it fully and, indeed, this may be one of the reasons they have purchased this book. It is not our intention to deter anyone from becoming a driving instructor but to help you to make a realistic and well informed decision about what to expect from the driver training industry. For a multitude of reasons, many people have looked around and decided that being a driving instructor is the career for them. Some may tell themselves that it surely cannot be that difficult to teach people to drive. They may also believe that driving instructors get a very good income and that, if they work under a franchise agreement, they get a car as well. Let us explore these perceptions further.
How difficult can it be?
If teaching people of all walks of life, ages and abilities was easy, driving instructors would be almost non-existent as families and friends would cheerfully take on the task. Also, before you can teach people to drive for financial gain as a fully qualified Driving Standards Agency approved driving instructor (DSA ADI – car), you will have to pass three increasingly difficult DSA exams. The drop-out rate for people who decide part way through the course that being an ADI is not for them is depressingly high. The failure rate for the three ADI tests is approximately 50% for Part 1, 55% for Part 2 and 72% for Part 3. This book has been written in part to help you avoid making these time-consuming and very costly mistakes.
A good income?
Your income will be at the mercy of a variety of factors and may fluctuate over the year. You will encounter extra costs that will be a drain on your income. Your first major cost will be your training fees, which may be thousands of pounds.
A free car?
If you work under a franchise, you may well get a car, but it certainly will not be free. You will be paying for it one way or another as franchise companies do not hold charity status.
The reality of being an ADI
If you are seriously considering becoming a driving instructor, now is the time to look at things objectively. Becoming a driving instructor will take a lot of your time and a lot of your money. You must make sure that you are making the right decision, now.
For a moment we ask that you put to one side any rosy images you may have of earning thousands of pounds a month while effortlessly supervising the driving of your new school car through the sun-dappled lanes. Step out from the dream, look closely at the questions below and answer them honestly. (Please note that, for brevity, the comments following the questions cover just a few of the points. To find out more, please refer to the appropriate chapters of this book.)
Being a self-employed ADI
Being self-employed has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, although you can have flexible working hours you may also work what most people would consider to be unsociable hours. Although you will be ‘your own boss’, you will not have the benefits and piece of mind of sick pay, paid holidays or company pension schemes. You will not even have the guarantee of a consistent and steady income. Very many ADIs have to work part time due to having insufficient clients. If you have a large mortgage or other financial commitments you should consider this very carefully. Look closely at the appropriate chapters of this book to find out more.
Driving for a living as an ADI
Unless you have driven for a living, you may not fully appreciate what it feels like to be sat in a car for up to nine hours a day. You will not even be driving for most of that time – your client will. It will not be, and should not be, as relaxing as you might think.
Working in a one-to-one situation
You may enjoy socialising on a one-to-one basis but being in close proximity to someone you may not even like or who may also have personal hygiene problems is a totally different matter.
Are you fit for the job?
You may think that fitness is probably not a problem for a sedentary job like giving driving instruction. But there are fitness issues. Your back has to be able to withstand being in one position for long periods. You should also be mentally fit to withstand the rigours of having learners drive you through potentially dangerous situations, possibly many times a day. If you have any doubts about your general health you should visit your GP and ask for advice before you proceed any further.
Working alongside people of different cultures, social backgrounds and ages Clients from different cultures may not be able to speak English very well, if at all. They may have a totally different way of looking at problem-solving, which can lead to difficulties. Generally your clients:
- will have differing levels of aptitude and ability;
- may not even want to learn to drive; and
- may have a poor attitude towards life in general or to driving – or even towards you, in particular.
Your clients may also have:
- poor co-ordination;
- poor retention of information;
- learning difficulties; and/or
- physical difficulties.
Then, of course, you will have those who think they know it all because they have seen their parents drive or talked to their friends and concluded that it must be simple. Some may think that, because they were once at test standard (supposedly) ten years ago, they only need a couple of top-up lessons before taking their test. What about a timid 17-year-old who cannot converse, who cannot reverse and who starts to cry every time something goes wrong?
The skills and qualities required to be an ADI
Ask yourself the following questions to find out if you have the skills and qualities to be an ADI:
- Are you able to communicate with others in a clear and logical manner?
- Are you blessed with endless patience and understanding?
- Will you be able to correct mistakes in a good-humoured way even when your client seems intent on damaging your car or causing an accident?
- Will you be able to remain tolerant when your client makes the same simple error many, many times?
- Are you a good listener?
- Do you have good powers of observation?
- Will you have the stamina and commitment to be able to remain as enthusiastic at 8.30 p.m. as you were at 8.30 a.m.?
Your finances and support
Again, ask yourself the following questions to find out about your finances and other forms of support:
- Will you be able to study intensively at home over a period of months?
- Do you have the finances and time to undertake the training necessary to complete the course?
- If you have a family, will they be supportive?
- What if you fail the last test for the third and final time after all the time and money spent?
- When you have (hopefully) passed the test will your present car be suitable for driving lessons or will you need to spend even more money on a new(er) car – and, if so, will that money be available?
Conditions set by the Driving Standards Agency
In accordance with the DSA’s regulations, before becoming a DSA ADI and registered as such, each trainee must:
- hold a full British or Northern Ireland unrestricted car-driving licence;
- have held this for a total of at least four out of the past six years prior to entering the register after qualifying (a foreign driving licence, an automaticcar driving licence or a provisional licence held after passing the driving test all count towards the four years);
- not have been disqualified from driving at any time in the four years prior to being entered on the ADI register;
- be able to read a car number plate at a distance of 27.5 m (90 ft) where the letters are 79.4 mm (3⁄8 inch) tall, with the help of spectacles or contact lenses, if worn;
- be a fit and proper person and clear the criminal records check to have their name entered in the register. All convictions, including motoring offences still in force (i.e. not ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974), will be taken into account when the DSA Registrar assesses a person’s suitability to be entered in the register.We suggest you complete the Disclosure Application Form from the Criminal Records Bureau and send this off well before booking your Part 1 test, as it can take about two months to process. Your test cannot be booked until you receive clearance from the bureau. This form should come in the ADI 14 pack;
- pass the register’s three qualifying exams; and
- be aware that they cannot accompany a person unless they have held a full UK driving licence for three years and that they must be aged 21 or more (a foreign full licence will count towards this three-year period but it must be a foreign licence that is accepted under the ‘exchange’ scheme – see section 4 of the DVLA pamphlet D100).
If you have answered all the questions satisfactorily, fulfilling all the above conditions, and you still want to be a driving instructor, then now is the time to find out about the three tests and training courses involved.
The three qualifying ADI tests
Aims and objectives
The aim now is to pass all three increasingly difficult tests. They must be done in this order and, when you have passed each one, the examiner will provide you with the form to complete regarding the next test.
ADI Part 1: the written test
This is considered by most to be the easiest test. The Part 1 test comprises:
- 1. test paper; and
- 2. hazard perception.
The first part of the Part 1 test is a test paper containing 100 questions in a multiple-choice answer format using a touch-screen computer and mouse.
Q. Anti-lock braking system allows the driver to:
- A. a) apply the brakes and steer at the same time
- b) accelerate without skidding
- c) brake without fear of skidding
- d) corner faster than cars without ABS
The 100 questions are divided into four bands:
- 1. Road procedure.
- 2. Traffic signs and signals, car control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge.
- 3. The driving test, disabilities and the law.
- 4. Publications and instructional technique.
Test paper pass mark
The pass mark is 85% but you must reach a minimum of 80% (20 out of 25) in each of the four bands. This test must be completed in 90 minutes.
Hazard perception After the test paper you have up to three minutes before taking the second part of the theory test. The second part of this test requires you to watch 14 video clips of actual driving situations from the perspective of the driver and to respond by clicking the computer mouse when you see a hazardous situation ahead. To achieve a high score, you need to respond to the developing hazards. The maximum you can achieve per clip is five points in the unseen scoring window. Hazard perception pass mark You will be given your result once you have left the room. Check the DSA website (see Appendix 1) to find the current test fee and pass mark. ADI Part 2: the driving technique test Your driving licence You are required to present your driving licence (old style plus your passport or both parts of the new photo-style licence) together with the letter for this test from the DSA. If you intend becoming an ADI and if you do not have a new-style licence or a passport, then you should now consider applying for a new-style licence. The vehicle You are required to undertake the test in a vehicle that is properly taxed and insured. This vehicle:
- must be a saloon car or a hatchback/estate car in good working condition without a space-saver tyre on any of the four wheels, with functioning seat belts and head restraint on both front seats;
- must have a manual transmission, right-hand steering and an adjustable interior, rear-view mirror for use by the examiner; and
- must not display ‘L’ plates.
The Part 2 test comprises:
- 1. an eyesight test;
- 2. safety questions; and
- 3. driving technique.
The conditions of the eyesight test were described earlier.
The safety questions require you successfully to:
describe how to perform a check on the condition and safety of three of the vehicle’s components; and
demonstrate an actual check on the condition of another two components.
The driving test requires you to undertake an advanced-style drive to a very high standard within the following areas:
- Expert handling of the controls.
- Use of correct road procedure.
- Anticipation of the actions of other road users and the taking of appropriate action where necessary.
- Sound judgement of distance, speed and timing.
- Consideration for the convenience and safety of other road users.
The routes will include fast-moving traffic and a range of road and traffic conditions on urban and rural roads, including a dual carriageway/motorway.
You will also be required to demonstrate:
- three reversing manoeuvres;
- moving off straight or at an angle;
- turning corners accurately and without any unnecessary hesitation;
- overtaking, meeting or crossing the path of other vehicles; and
- an emergency stop.
The Part 2 test lasts about an hour. You will be given the result of your test by the examiner at its conclusion.
After passing the tests
Once you have passed the Part 2 test you have two courses of action available to you before taking the Part 3 test. You can take further instruction for the Part 3 and apply for the test when you think you are ready, or you could consider using the Trainee Licence Scheme where you must undertake the regulatory, minimum, 40 hours’ Part 3 training with a qualified instructor/ trainer. Then you may apply for a trainee licence that is valid for six months. Following this you will be able to work in association with a driving school/ADI under supervision and/or to receive further training supported by your trainer (as required under the DSA trainee licence regulations) while receiving tuition fees.
Part 3: the instructional ability test
This is considered by nearly everyone to be the hardest test. You must take your driving licence with you to the test.
Format of the Part 3 test
The test is in two phases, each lasting 30 minutes. During each phase you will be asked to give instruction on one of 12 listed exercises. You must pass both phases.
Objectives of the Part 3 test
The object of this test is for the examiner to assess the quality of your instruction and your ability to pass on your knowledge of driving to your clients. You will be expected to give driving instruction to the examiner, who will be role playing as a beginner or someone with limited driving knowledge and, finally, as someone who is at about test standard.
You will be assessed regarding your:
- manner, clarity, adequacy and correctness of instruction given;
- observation, analysis and correction of faults committed by your client; and
- general manner.
What is assessed is the relevance of the instruction for your client’s ability and to the particular road conditions on the day of the test. You will be expected to maintain control of the lesson, to be patient and tactful and to give encouragement to your client at all times.
The test exercises
The examiner will select one of the following exercises for each part of the test:
- Safety precautions on entering the car and an explanation of the car’s main controls.
- Moving off and making normal stops.
- Reversing into a limited opening to the left or right.
- Turning in the road.
- Reverse/parallel parking, either behind a vehicle or into a bay.
- The use of mirrors and how to undertake an emergency stop.
- Approaching and turning corners.
- Judgement of speed, making progress and general road positioning.
- Dealing with road junctions (emerging).
- Dealing with crossroads.
- Dealing with pedestrian crossings and giving correct signals in a clear and unmistakable manner.
- Overtaking, meeting and crossing the path of other road users, allowing adequate clearance.
The examiner’s role play
The examiner will adopt the role of:
- a novice driver; or
- an elementary standard driver; and then
- Someone who is almost at test standard but who is still making errors. Or it may be someone who has been disqualified from driving and who now has a new provisional licence and needs to pass their test, with you trying to eliminate their bad driving habits. They are not likely to be pleased with you teaching them how to drive ‘properly!'
Whatever role they play, you must forget that they are your examiner and not assume that they can drive or will comply with your instructions. This is what many trainees find difficult. (More in-depth information about these three tests can be found in Chapter 3.)
Training for the tests
Consider carefully whether you actually need to do a course for the Part 1 test. Many people do this exam without any help from a driving school – which is obviously a lot cheaper. You can obtain the full question bank from the DSA and then just study at home. On the other hand some people prefer to do a professional Part 1 course because:
- it gives them an added impetus;
- they receive help from people who know what’s required; and
- it gives them the opportunity to see and question how the driver-training industry works.
ADI training schools have differing ways of teaching trainee driving instructors. The syllabus laid out below is from the Driving School Pro ADI training schools. Although this programme may exceed that of other establishments, it will give you some idea of what you should expect. (An example of the resource material used on the Driving School Pro course can be found in Appendix 2.)
ADI Part 1 course
You will need to set aside many hours of study time to read and learn the material required. We advise that you do not read each book from cover to cover; rather, read relevant material in the books on the topics shown below. It is also advisable to study without distractions for periods of about an hour at a time, giving yourself a break before undertaking the next study session. Doing this at the end of a working day is not ideal.
Only when you believe you are knowledgeable in all aspects of the course content should you begin to answer the questions in the DSA Theory Test Bank, which should either come with your ADI 14 pack.
As you realise the mistakes you make, write them down (and check to see whether they fall into one or more categories – bands) on a separate sheet. It is these you will need to learn, having first done some additional background reading.
When satisfied that you are ready, book your theory test by telephone or via the internet. You cannot book it at the local theory test centre.
Training syllabus for Part 1
The following is the syllabus for Part 1:
- 1. Background information about the DSA and the driver training industry.
- 2.Qualifying as, and the grading of, ADIs.
- 3. The qualities and characteristics expected from ADIs.
- 4. An explanation of the Part 1 examination, including:
- the ‘L’ driving test;
- the driving test report form;
- the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations;
- the theory and practice of learning, teaching and assessment; and
- the hazard perception test.
Note : the maximum number of attempts allowed to pass this test is unlimited (at present).
ADI Part 2 course
This aspect of the course incorporates driving to the standard described in the DSA’s Driving Manual. This is not just a slightly more difficult ‘L’ test. A drive of an advanced nature is required showing a thorough knowledge of the principles of good driving and road safety, as well as driving with skill and confidence. Even though you may have been driving for many years, bad habits develop. Not only does this need to be eliminated or modified but also new driving techniques may need to be developed until you drive to a consistently high standard as the norm. The standard required may be higher than that of some advanced driving organisations.
Some of the areas of driving that usually need attention are:
- attitude to other drivers;
- steering technique;
- gear changing;
- using all mirrors effectively;
- planning to make effective use of the accelerator and brakes;
- planning to avoid adding to the hazards ahead; and
- emerging from junctions.
Training syllabus for Part 2
The following is the syllabus for Part 2:
- 1.Driving technique, car control, road procedure, hazard recognition/ proper response, dealing safely with other road users and pedestrians and the use of safety equipment.
- 2. Vehicle suitability.
- 3. Knowledge of basic car mechanics and car design applicable to giving driving instruction.
- 4. The Part 2 test, including:
- instructional techniques, fault assessment and lesson planning;
- drivers with disabilities and simple vehicle adaptations; and
- licensed trainees.
Note : the maximum number of attempts allowed to pass this test is three (at present).
Further areas that are discussed include the following:
- Choices/decisions. Should you later join an established driving school or set up on your own?
- The resource material that will be used on the course.
- Answering any driving-related questions the trainee may wish to ask.
ADI Part 3 course
Most people find the Part 3 course and the Part 3 test the most difficult. The Part 3 course is the lengthiest and, if the trainee wishes to give paid instruction using a trainee licence, then they must also undertake the mandatory 40 hours compulsory training. The trainee licence can be very useful. It licenses the trainee to give driving instruction to the general public and to receive a fee for doing so. More information on the trainee licence can be found below. On the Part 3 course you will spend many hours with your trainer, not only learning how to teach people to drive but also how to cope with the situations the examiner is going to present to you on the test day. You will most likely find that trying to control your ‘learner’ (i.e. your trainer in role play) is frustratingly difficult at first. You may consider that your trainer is being outlandishly awkward but you will find that, once you have passed your Part 3, the world is full of people wishing to learn to drive who sometimes seem to be just like that.
Training syllabus for Part 3
The following is the syllabus for Part 3:
- 1.Observing lesson topics being given by an instructor ‘live’ to a real client, as can be arranged. This will occur at various times throughout the course.
- 2.Having your trainer deliver each lesson briefing to you as if you were the learner driver client.
- 3. Returning the briefing to your trainer or trainee colleague, as if they were your client, the following day.
- 4.Observing your trainee colleague giving instruction.
- 5. Continuing such practices until your trainer is satisfied with the standard you have reached.
- 6. Receiving a set of full Graphic Briefings (see Appendix 2, as Graphic Briefings are available to purchase from Driving School Pro).
- 7. Receiving a set of lesson briefing notes.
At the end of each lesson you will receive a verbal debriefing. At the end of each topic practised, you will receive a written report showing your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to realise any further practices necessary before taking your Part 3 test.
The trainee licence
Once you have passed the second part of the ADI qualification process and have shown that you have completed 40 hours of instructional training, you may apply for a trainee licence. This helps you to gain experience – instructing clients to drive while legally being able to take payment for this. You will be issued with a pink, trainee driving instructor (car) licence to place inside the windscreen of your car (the qualified licence is green).
Note : If you opt to work under a trainee licence, it is obligatory that you receive 20 hours’ additional training or supervision during the licence period (up to six months). This has to be certificated in order for you to take your part 3 test (see the DSA regulations at the DSA website).
You should not consider this to be your sole means of income as you may not pass the final test. This licence is issued for a period of six months in order for you to gain practical experience in preparation for the Part 3 test. Unless there are exceptional circumstances that the Registrar agrees to, you are only granted this licence for one six-month period.
Applying for a trainee licence
If you apply for a trainee licence, you must:
- hold and have held a full UK or European (EU or EEA) car driving licence for a total of at least four years out of the past six years, up to the date of application;
- not have been disqualified from driving at anytime in the four years up to the date of application;
- be a fit and proper person. This now includes a criminal records check on you;
- have passed the theory part and the practical part of the qualifying examinations;
- be eligible to take the test of ability to instruct; and
- not have passed the theory test more than two years before the date of your application.
Trainee licence application form
The application form for a trainee licence can be obtained from the examiner who passes you on your driving ability test (Part 2 test).
Conditions for the trainee licence
Apart from meeting the above criteria, the licence will only be granted if you meet the following conditions:
- You are authorised to give instruction for the driving school whose address is shown on the licence.
- There must be at least one ADI working at the supervisor’s address for every trainee licence holder employed there.
- You must receive 40 hours’ practical training from a qualified ADI. It is your responsibility to make sure that you receive training in each of the specified subjects.
- You must not advertise yourself as a fully qualified instructor.
- you must abide by one of the following conditions. You must receive:
- supervision for 20% of all lessons you give from your sponsoring ADI. A record of all lessons given, along with the supervision received, must be kept on the form ADI 21S, which will be issued with the licence. This must be signed by you and your ADI and must be returned to the DSA as soon as the licence expires; or
- a minimum additional 20 hours of training. This extra training must take place within the first three months of receiving the licence or before you take your first attempt at Part 3, whichever is the soonest. A record of this training must be kept on the form ADI 21AT and must be sent to the DSA before the end of the three-month period or presented to the examiner conducting the Part 3 test, whichever is the earliest. At least 25% of the training will have to be practical.
Displaying the trainee licence
When instruction is being given to your clients, the trainee licence must be displayed in the bottom left-hand corner of the front windscreen. The use of the licence is your own responsibility. No refunds will be given for any period when the licence is not used.
If you cannot make full use of your licence and you have to stop giving tuition, you should return it immediately to the issuing office. If your trainee licence is lost or stolen you should report it to the police and to the DSA straightaway. You can find out about the trainee licence and any new rules, by logging on to the DSA website.
- Of all those who begin the course, only about 20% succeed in qualifying. Therefore you are advised not to give up your main means of income until you are fully qualified.
- At the moment in the industry, there is an ongoing discussion as to whether the trainee licence should be dispensed with or changed in some way. This may mean that this facility may not be available at some time in the future, or in its present format.