Choosing a driving instructor is probably one of the most important decisions that you will have to make and can be a daunting task.
A quick google search shows over 20 driving schools in our area alone, so how do you go about identifying the one to suit your needs?
People often look for a driving instructor who is "good and cheap." Unfortunately the two rarely go together as many have found to their cost, but only after wasting hundreds of pounds. Why would somebody who is good at their job charge less money? They often have to charge less for their lessons because it's the only way they can compete for pupils.
The following sections detail some of the ways that people can make their choice.
By far the best method is a recommendation from a friend or relative who can give first hand experience.
Recommendations supply me with approximately 90% of my work. This is something that I am very proud of. I like to think that all of my students are happy with the service and tuition that they receive and without their referrals I simply could not survive.
How much should a driving instructor charge for driving lessons?
The price of a driving lesson is only one of the factors that you should consider when making your choice of driving instructor.
It's not like buying a new pair of jeans, where several shops will all have the same product and you just shop around for the best deal. Driving instructors cannot be compared like for like. They may drive around in similar looking tuition cars, but the customer service and instruction they give can vary enormously.
You have to ask yourself this question - Why do some instructors or schools offer cut price lessons? It could be that they offer a cut price service. It could be that they are struggling for work but why is this if they are the cheapest in town?
On the other hand there are driving instructors who are reliable, have first class teaching skills, years of experience, high pass rates and many satisfied customers. These type of instructors stay busy for a very good reason, not because they are the cheapest in town but because their customers learn in fewer lessons and benefit from top teaching skills.
Remember that very few things in life are free and you generally get what you pay for.
Unfortunately the standard of driving tuition and service throughout the industry is not as high as it should be.
Anybody who teaches driving for money must be qualified. The qualification exams are administrated by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Instructors must pass a strict three part exam process before being allowed to teach unsupervised. It is possible to obtain a trainee teaching licence valid for up to 6 months to help prepare for the final exam.
Fully qualified instructors must display a green licence badge in the tuition car and trainees a pink licence badge. Trainee instructors should also be supervised by a qualified instructor some of the time they teach. Only fully qualified instructors can call themselves a DVSA ADI (Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor).
Even after qualifying, instructor will be 'checked' by a DVSA standards examiner to ensure they still meet the minimum standards. Instructors will be given a grade depending on their teaching standards. Grades 1 to 3 are substandard and risk losing their teaching licence unless they improve before their next check in 3 months time. Grade 4 is adequate, 5 is of a good standard and 6 is very good and the highest grade. The overwhelming majority of instructors are grade 4. From April 2014 the grading system has been updated and replaced with grades A, B or fail. Only a small number of instructors (less then 25%) have received grade A.
Instructors are encouraged to take professional development training (CPD) which is extra training throughout their working life to keep up to date with modern methods and teaching techniques. Just imagine going to see your doctor only to find out he'd never read a book or been on any course since he qualified 20 years ago - I think you'd soon want to see another doctor!
I take my own CPD very seriously and since I qualified back in 1995 I have spent a considerable amount of time and money each year on CPD. And I was awarded grade A at my last standards check in May 2015.
A proportion of my work is from students that have decided to change from their previous instructor due to a variety of reasons e.g.
"my instructor is always talking on the phone instead of looking after me"; "I receive no feedback to enable me to improve"; "he/she is always late"; "the tuition car smells of smoke"; "he/she talks more about themselves than about my driving"; "my instructor eats his lunch whilst on my lesson". These are some of the reasons that are given to me when talking to new students.
Does this sound familiar?
Maybe it's time for a change?
Beware of gimmicks
There are many ways that driving schools will attract new students, some will offer free lessons, student discounts and all sorts of gimmicks.
You now have the task of sifting through all these offers.
First lesson FREE, 5 for £56, 10 for £99 or 10 for £153 are just some of the cheap offers available around our area. However, they are not always what they seem!
For example, sometimes your 'offer' lessons will be spread out over the duration of your training and even held until the day of your driving test, or sometimes the car will never leave the side of the road for the whole lesson.
Theory test explained: official DVSA guide
Driving test explained: official DVSA guide
"I hated driving and got shouted at on my lessons..."
"I started driving lessons with another driving school but the instructor used to shout at me if I made a mistake or didn't understand something. I would dread every lesson and hated driving. A friend who'd passed his test with Chris Parker Driving School suggested I change instructor. I learnt more with Chris in one hour than I did in a 10 hour course with my previous instructor. He creates a calm environment in the car and makes you feel comfortable from the start. Definitely worth the price."