I understand that this may be a controversial subject and I am not judging anyone by my comments but I have been in this industry for many years, and it fascinates me when ADIs/PDIs discuss what reaching an ‘A’ Grade on their Standards Check or Part 3 means to them.
For some it is of no importance, provided they can do enough to get, or hang on to their ADI badge, it’s enough to get a ‘B’ Grade. Others strive to get the ‘A’ because if they are not demonstrating their skills to the highest level and satisfying the 17 competencies of the Standards Check or Part 3 assessment, then they feel that they have under achieved.
So, if we don’t rate ourselves by the grades that we achieve on our assessments, how do most driving instructors assess their achievement?
In my experience, most will tell me “I have a great pass rate” or “I get loads of recommendations, I must be doing a good job”
Let’s look at those two statements:
“I have a great pass rate”:
Most students will learn to drive eventually – fact. Some students will learn despite their instructors – fact. Some instructors use the most effective teaching and learning strategies developing students into well rounded drivers – fact.
“I get loads of recommendations; I must be doing a good job” –
Provided a driving instructor turns up when they say they are going to, are presentable, have a clean car and a car that the student enjoys driving, and they pass their driving test eventually, the student will recommend them to their friends. Students have no idea how good or bad their instructor is. Most of them stay with that instructor for the full term and have no-one to compare them with.
With this in mind, I have come to the conclusion that the only way we can truly say that we are delivering great lessons is by the DVSA assessment of the Standards Check or Part 3. So, surely every ADI/PDI should be striving for a Grade ‘A’?
I also understand that some instructors do not perform well on assessments because they “fall to bits”, what would you recommend to your students if they had a similar problem? More training?
What are your thoughts?
Have a great day!
When your phone rings or you get a message from a student which says "Hi I have booked my test for next week and I would like a couple of lessons and be taken to test, I have been driving for ages and just need to brush up" What is your response? I am guessing that it is similar to mine when I get a call from an ADI/PDI to say "I have my last attempt at my Standards Check/Part 3 next week and I need to pass! Can I have an hours training with you?" Hey I'm good, but not that good!
I am aware how much pressure we are all under as trainers to get people through their tests, whether that's a driving test, advanced test or the ADI qualifying tests, we work in a performance based industry and we feel that others judge our ability by our successes. However, students of any subject will learn eventually provided they put enough time and energy into the learning, so are our learners passing despite us or because of us?
If our training is test focused are we doing our students a disservice, especially if we really care about road safety?
The Standards Check came about after many years, decades in fact, of research lead by CIECA (The International Commission for Driver Testing) of which the DVSA were involved. From this research came, after many reports including the 'Gadget', 'Merit' and 'Hermes', 'The National Standards for Driver and Rider Training' (a link is at the bottom) which is where the competencies of the 'Standards' Check came from, we as ADIs are assessed against these standards.
So when we receive the letter informing us that our Standards Check is due, do we fear it or welcome it? Well I think the answer to that depends on our understanding of the required competencies and our ability to recognise our own strengths and weaknesses. Do we, ourselves train to pass a test or are we interested enough to deliver a great lesson on every lesson? The Standards Check is looking at three main areas, Is this ADI giving value for money, has learning taken place and has the car been kept safe? If you can satisfy the 17 competencies of the Standards Check then the answer is yes, yes and yes. Surely we should be doing this on every lesson, not just when our Standards Check is due? My advice, if you don't understand any of the competencies or are not sure if you satisfy them on every lesson, then learn how to in which ever way suits you. Your paying students deserve it.
We as trainers need to get away from being test focused, tests should just be a consequence of the training given. We need to train beyond the test, real world coping strategies. If we do this our students will breeze the test anyway. If we are training to the advice of those experts who have put in years and years of research on our behalf, then we know we are doing a great job.
As some of you know, I have been an ADI for many, many years and I have always striven to deliver the best training that I possibly can, using the most effective methods. When I have had a need to up-skill I have done it before it became a desperate need. I have been a grade 5 and 6 and most recently an A grade 50/51 (I forgot to tell my student to turn left). I have welcomed the Standards Check invitation, although I wouldn't be human if I wasn't a little apprehensive, I see it as confirmation that I am still delivering a great lesson and welcome the feedback if I am not.
On average we are asked to attend a Standards Check once every 4 years. My calculation is that over the 4 year period, say we deliver 30 hours of lessons every week for 50 weeks of the year, that adds up to 6,000 hours of practice to deliver a great lesson, giving value for money, where learning takes place and the car is kept safe. How much more training do you need?
So, please don't call me a week before your final chance and ask for help, I'm good but miracles take a little longer!! If you are worried that you are not delivering the best lesson that you possibly can and fear that letter arriving, get training now! You should be doing a great job every hour of every day that you work, not once every 4 years! it's hard to undo 6,000 hours of learned behaviour. Use those 6,000 hours to practice delivering a great lesson and by consequence passing your Standards Check/Part 3 with flying colours!!
Have a great day! :-)
“I keep 6 good honest serving-men, they taught me all I knew;
Their names are What, Why and When, and How and Where and Who”
Happy New Year!
How was your Christmas break? Where did you spend Christmas Day? Who did you spend it with? When did you return to work? How does it feel back in the driving seat? Why are you reading this?
Quite simply, asking questions instead of telling hold the power to make our students think, come up with ideas of their own that they believe in and helps to motivate them. Our students, when being told, must passively accept our solutions and ideas.
By asking questions we build better relationships with our students: When telling, we become superior, the expert; when asking questions, we are on a more equal level with our students showing that their ideas and solutions hold value.
Nobody knows your student better than your student – Our beliefs and emotions affect our behaviour. As driving instructors, we focus mainly on the behaviour (faults) and not the root cause of that behaviour. We don’t always ask enough questions to find out how our students think or feel about situations or previous experiences. Only our students have these answers.
Nothing motivates students more than trying out their own ideas – a solution from the student motivates them more than advice, or the ‘right’ answer coming from the instructor.
Most of the time students know what they need to do to improve – They just need the confidence and support to try it out for themselves. When you ask your students questions and really listen to them, you will increase their confidence by demonstrating that you are taking an interest in their views and ideas, and that their opinions are valid. This will empower your students.
Asking helps to build responsibility – It moves your students away from depending on you for all the answers. It builds the responsibility muscle and develops ‘thinking’, independent drivers.
Improves Rapport – There is nothing better in life than someone taking an interest in you and listening to your points of view, ideas and opinions. Not only listening to them but helping you to develop them into reality. Asking our students about their beliefs, thoughts and how they feel about things they really care about, builds trust between you and helps your students to transform.
So if you want to really take off this year, try asking a few more questions before coming up with the solutions yourself. Have a great time, whatever you’re doing.
It's been a while, so I must start by apologising but like most of you, I am very busy, long may the sun shine!!
Hopefully, you are all enjoying the fact that your diaries are full and business is good. Having been in this industry for so long I know that it is always famine and feast. We appear to be in a period of 'feast' at present, but what happens when we start to 'famine'? Are you prepared?
I hate to put a dampener on your good fortune but this time will surely pass as quickly as it came, so now might be a good time to look at your business plans and scrutinise how your future looks when things change. Your businesses are probably running themselves at present, some of you may be building waiting lists, or turning work away, Your biggest worry at present is the size of your tax bill at the end of the financial year, but what happens when the work starts to dry up.
Now would be a good time to look at your business skills like advertising, marketing, SEO, website building, networking or even looking for ways to diversify. We all have strengths but we have as many weaknesses, do you know where yours are? What can you do right now to improve your chances of success above your competitors when the the work slows down.
Now is probably the time to take action, while you can afford to take time off to achieve it. Maybe it's upgrading your skills or upgrading your car, going on a business course or learning something new, looking into getting your fleet badge or becoming an instructor trainer?
Don't wait for the inevitable, because then, when you have time on your hands but no money in your pocket, it will be too late, ACT NOW!!
Cheers for now,
Not making judgements and presuming motivation can be a trap that we as trainers can easily fall into. In order to be client-centred it is really important that we are aware of this trap and endeavour to be non-judgemental.
In this month's blog I am highlighting this trap through sharing an experience which made it clear to me how easy it is to judge too quickly.
"I was driving along a busy road towards a small market town on a shopping trip. Suddenly the car I was following slowed down and eventually came to a halt and I could see that the car in front of that had also stopped. I was puzzled as the traffic was proceeding as normal in the other direction. We were stationary for some minutes and then a woman appeared on the nearside, opposite the first parked car and I saw that she was carrying a puppy. She proceeded to scramble down quite a steep bank, dropped the puppy at the bottom of the bank, climbed up again, got into her car and drove away. I was absolutely incensed!! I had heard that people dumped unwanted animals but to actually witness it happening was very upsetting. By this time, quite a queue had formed behind me and people were getting impatient!! We all moved off and, almost immediately, the woman who had dumped the puppy turned off the main road into a country lane. I was very tempted to follow her but obviously had no idea where she might be going, whether I could catch up with her at all or, if I did, what exactly I would do. So I just carried on driving, seething with indignation about what I had just seen and wondered if there was a local police station where I could report the incident ( this was before I owned a mobile phone). I was still following the same car as we drove into the town. The lady driver then pulled into a parking space and it just so happened that there was another empty space adjacent to this so I parked beside her. We opened our car doors at almost the same time and I was so cross that I decided to speak to the lady who emerged. "Did you see that woman who dumped the puppy?" I asked angrily. "Is that what you thought?" she replied. "She wasn't dumping it at all. The little dog was running round in the road, so she stopped to pick it up and take it down the bank to where the house was, as she thought it had probably escaped from there and would be safer".
I was mortified and very ashamed. What I had thought of as an act of extreme cruelty was, in actual fact, the opposite. The woman I had thought of so negatively as I drove the few more miles into the town had stopped her car to rescue the puppy, climbed down a steep bank to put it out of harm's way and, had risked the wrath of a queue of other drivers who wouldn't have known why she was holding up the traffic or might have jumped to the same conclusion as I did.
You can imagine how I felt. not only that but, if the driver of the other car had not parked beside me, I would have gone on thinking how cruel the other woman was and would probably have repeated the story many times. Also, if I had reported what had happened, I could have set into motion a train of events that would undoubtedly had caused a lot of problems. I had made a huge assumption and my judgement was totally flawed - because it was based on what I saw whereas I didn't see what was the reality."
So how can we be absolutely sure that we know all the facts of a situation, enough to make a judgement? How can we possibly know what is in a person's mind and therefore presume their motivations and intentions?
I wish that I could say that I will never again be judgemental about something or someone but none of us are perfect. However this experience has made me so much more aware of how easy it is to jump to conclusions.
Many ADIs are concerned with how the Risk Management section of the Standards Check needs to be met. Today's blog will hopefully make the requirements a little clearer.
In the Standards Check guidelines in the ADI 1 Standard Operating Procedure, it states:
The ‘balance of responsibility’, between the pupil and the ADI, will inevitably vary in different circumstances. For example, compare the following two scenarios:
a) A pupil in the very early stages of their training, in a car fitted with dual controls.
In this situation it might be reasonable for an ADI to start a lesson by saying something like:
‘At all times I expect you to drive as carefully and responsibly as possible. I will expect you to be aware of other road users and to control the car. However, I do have the ability to take control of the car in an emergency. I will only use these controls when I feel that you are not dealing with the situation yourself. If that happens we will take some time to talk about what happened so that you understand for next time.’
b) A pupil who has passed their driving test but has asked you to give them some additional training in their own car, which is much bigger and more technically advanced than the one they learnt in.
In this situation an ADI might say something like:
‘You have passed your test and I will therefore assume that you are taking full responsibility for our safety. I will be talking to you from time to time but I will try to keep that to a minimum so that I don’t distract you. If I am quiet don’t worry; that just means I am comfortable with what you are doing. I will, of course, let you know if I see any risk that you appear to have missed.’
This statement, or something similar is very important, however there is more to responsibility of risk that a mere statement at the beginning of a lesson.
At The Beginning
If, for example the ADI has been working with approaching and emerging at junctions and their topic for the lesson is how to deal with roundabouts. How will the responsibility for risk be shared? What can the student be reasonably expected to be responsible for?
This will depend on their previous experiences. If they were dealing with junctions really well on their own on the last lesson then it may be reasonable to suggest that they try these independently with a little help at first just to get them warmed up. Or, if they still needed a little help last time you may start with a full talk through and then follow up with a few questions.
Who will be responsible for the areas that they know nothing about yet? This is the responsibility of the ADI, so a great deal of help will be needed here.
However the sharing of risk is divided, this must be agreed by the student, but this agreement does not need to be set in stone for the duration of the lesson. Ultimately the ADI is responsible for the safety of the car, occupants and other road users, so if you need to take a bit of responsibility back (more help), or indeed give the student a bit more responsibility (less help), then this must be discussed and agreed with the student.
On The Move
Risk should also be managed on the move. Keeping the roundabouts topic as an example, the ADI needs to use Q&A to manage risk in other areas of development, not just on roundabouts, for example:
At junctions: "Tell me when you think it's safe to go"
At the brow of a hill: "What are you preparing for as you approach the brow"
Meeting situations: "How will you know if the vehicle ahead is going to hold back"
These are just some examples but there are of course many more.
When does a situation become safety critical?
The easy answer to this is when the ADI has to intervene either verbally or physically to avoid danger.
The above question examples are a 'call to action', and gives the student an opportunity to demonstrate that they are dealing with the potential danger, the ADI expects the correct response, but what happens if the student does not respond in the expected way? The ADI needs to then respond verbally by telling the student what they need to do. If the student does not respond to the instruction, the ADI would then need to take control by maybe using the dual controls.
If an intervention by the ADI, either verbally or physically, is necessary then it is imperative that the student has an opportunity to discuss the situation and the ADI helps them to come up with a solution of how to deal with similar situations in the future and not just ignore the issue as if it never happened!! Give them lots of help.
The next question the ADI needs to ask themselves is:
Will this situation affect the success of the student to achieve their learning outcomes for this lesson?
Yes? Change the lesson plan
No? Ask the student if they wish to change the lesson plan
For example: A lesson on how to deal with roundabouts has been agreed, the student has tried to emerge at a junction unsafely. Here the lesson plan must be changed.
However, if their lesson plan is to improve their reverse around a corner and they had the same problem, the lesson plan does not necessarily need to be changed but the student must be given the choice. If their choice is to continue with the original plan, in this instance this is completely acceptable but, help will be required to prevent the same issue reoccurring. In other words you must agree what help is required if the same situation arises.
So we can see that the responsibility for risk continues throughout the driving lesson and is shared by agreement between ADI and student. If the responsibility for risk shifts this must be discussed and agreed.
I hope this helps to clarify the this section of the Standards Check and I wish all of you who are awaiting the day the very best of luck.
If I can help anyone to prepare for the Standards Check please do not hesitate to contact me on my mobile 07714440800 or email me at email@example.com
the 2nd December 2015 I took my Standards Check and received an 'A' Grade with 50/51. This month's blog is about my experience in the hope that it may help others.
I don't teach many learner drivers, in fact at present I have one student, most of my work is in ADI development and fleet work. As I spend my time delivering Standards Check Training, ADI development courses and Driving Instructor training, I was feeling the pressure to perform in a way that was a good representation of my knowledge and understanding.
I managed to convince my student to take the morning off work in return for 3, 1 hour driving lessons free of charge, well worth it in my opinion. I also had a backup student a friend of mine who is a FLH, in case my student let me down at the last minute.
The lesson before the Standards Check we were working on Clutch Control, Up/Down Hill starts and the Turn in the Road. During the lesson it became evident that my student was not using her mirrors consistently. During reflection at the end of the lesson goals were set for the Standards Check, developing the Turn in The Road, improving accuracy and using her mirrors more consistently.
The evening before the date my student text me " I am feeling awful, I have caught my boyfriend's cold but don't worry I won't let you down. See you in the morning." My heart stopped momentarily, but at least I had been pre-warned that my student may not have the concentration that I would expect from her normally.
The awaited day arrived and I picked my student up at 09.30. She was standing outside her house, nose and eyes streaming and coughing. I asked her if she still felt up for it and she said "Yes of course, provided we can stop if I need to blow my nose or have a coughing fit,. I didn't take any medication this morning as I would be driving" I reassured her that we could and we set off to the test centre.
On arrival at the test centre, my student chose to wait in the car while I went to meet the examiner. The examiner wanted to see my ADI badge and said that she initially thought that my ADI number had been printed incorrectly as it only had 5 numbers!! I told the examiner a bit of information about my student and had printed of a copy of the reflective log and mind map from our previous lesson so that she had an idea of what had been discussed and how my student had decided her goals for the lesson.
Once in the car, I asked my student to get herself comfortable and to tell me how she was setting her mirrors to gain the best view. I then asked her to tell me about her last lesson and referred back to the mind map and reflective log.
I then reaffirmed her goals with her. I asked her if she had ever had passengers in the car and how this may affect her when she is driving? I also asked her who was responsible for ensuring that her passengers are wearing their seatbelts and had their head restraints adjusted correctly? I then asked my student how much help she would like with the roundabout and junctions on route to site and she said that she would like to try them without help. I then confirmed this, and explained about the sharing of risk, pointing out that I had dual controls and that if I needed to use them. we could discuss the issue so that she could manage the situation better the next time.
OK so the goals were set, risk & responsibility sharing had been discussed and we were ready to start. I did this by asking questions to test her knowledge and understanding regarding her use of mirrors. I then asked her how much help she would like on the move, it was agreed that I would prompt her, in a way that would give her the reasons to check. This was agreed, as was her need to tell me if she needed to pull over to blow her nose or cough.
My student blew her nose loudly, apologised to the examiner and off we went. That's where the problems began!!!
On leaving the test centre car park, my student over steered and clipped the kerb, dealt with it on the move, turned left, emerged left, so far so good but did notice that my student was struggling to get her feet off the pedals cleanly.
Turned right at a roundabout, she was struggling a tiny bit so just asked her a couple of closed questions. As she accelerated and started to change up through the gears it became more apparent that she had not set her seat properly and was sitting too close to the pedals, we agreed to find somewhere safe to pull up and adjust her seat. We turned left from the main road and she took the turning so wide that we ended up on the wrong side of the road. I had risk assessed it before I allowed it to happen, we then pulled up opposite parked cars with a lorry coming into the junction behind us. I asked her if she was happy with where she had chosen to stop and she decided to move a bit further down the road to allow room for the lorry to get past us.
We then discussed her seat position and how important it is to get this right and also the left hand turn. All of this I could draw from her as I had allowed her to experience it safely. We also reviewed her mirror work as we had been working on this on route. I asked her if she wanted to work on her junctions now and if so we would put the turning in the road on hold till a later time. She wanted to work on the junctions, speed on approach and steering, this was agreed along with how much help she required from me. We set off.
The next junction was a give way, she was still doing this independently, as agreed, however her clutch went down far too early, the car too fast. I asked a question, Do you need to slow down to walking pace? I instructed 'Stop', I hit the dual brake. It was a closed junction with cars parked in the new road making it difficult to see, and she was going to emerge unsafely. We were emerging to the right and we had a car turning into our road from the left who had held back to allow us to get out of the junction. I got her out of the junction and asked her to choose somewhere to pull over. We discussed why this was a safer place than the last place she chose to pull over and then discussed the last emerge.
She said that she could see through the parked car's windows, that it was clear and that as the other car was waiting for her she needed to get out quickly. I challenged these beliefs through questioning and during the conversation she divulged that the reason the clutch was down too early was because she had a fear of stalling. We now had another conversation about the workings of the clutch.
So now we are working on turning left, emerging at closed junctions & mirrors. We have agreed that I would take some responsibility back by talking her through her junctions, and give back some responsibility by her using her mirrors independently unless I noticed that she wasn't using them, in which case I would prompt her.
OK, now everything was back under control, until I asked her to turn right at a 'Y' shaped junction, yes she took the left fork to turn right. Another conversation!!
Time was now ticking by and I had about 7 minutes to get back to the test centre, no choice but to emerge right onto a busy 'A' road. I talked her up to the junction and then asked her what she was looking for? and to tell me when she thought it was safe. I confirmed when she did and we emerged really well. From then on I agreed with my student that I would now only prompt her if required as we approached & emerged at junctions, she did really well until the final left turn, so I immediately jumped in again to keep her safe. This junction was very close to the entrance to the test centre car park which she needed to turn left into, I continued to talk her safely into the car park, but forgot to tell her we were turning left!! Hence I lost a mark.
Once safely parked up, I asked her how she felt the lesson had gone? Had she achieved her goals? Then filled out a new reflective log, What went well? What not so well? How can I improve? Then set goals for the next lesson.
The rest is history.
We all have experience of driving on today's roads and the frustrations that come with it. How do our emotions affect the way that we behave behind the wheel? How many times today have you called out in the privacy of your vehicle "Idiot, what are you playing at?" Do we ever consider why another driver is behaving in a particular way, or just put it down to poor driving skills? Or, do we attach emotions to the behaviour, without actually knowing what these emotions are?
Our thoughts/beliefs, feelings/emotions and behaviour are inextricably linked. As human beings we cannot function without all of these elements and change to one of these elements will affect the others.
We already know that how we are feeling can change our behaviour behind the wheel and our emotions can sometimes make us behave totally 'out of character'. If we have had an argument with someone this may make us more aggressive on the road, leading to tailgating, speeding, going for unsuitable gaps and not being as courteous as we would normally be. If we have just had some great news, this too could cause us problems, being too courteous, not making progress, speeding etc. One thing that these emotions have on all of us is that they can be distracting and make us behave in a way that not only has an effect on the way that we drive but also others on the road.
The first step for us is to recognise our own emotions, and how they make us act behind the wheel, and then to be aware that they will make other drivers act in very a similar way.
So the next time someone 'cuts you up', is tailgating you, pulls out in front of you or holds you up, consider not just the behaviour, but also what may be going on in their lives at the moment which may have causing this behaviour, try to hold back the judgement. Don't take it personally, it may have nothing to do with you!!
Drive safe! Be chilled :-)
This blog is a little different to my previous ones, I think they call it reader participation. I would love you to reflect on the questions below and maybe give some advice to other readers.
When THAT letter drops through your letter box inviting us to attend a Standards Check how do you feel? I know that I have had several Checks and sat many exams in my lifetime and that initial feeling is always the same.
So, how or what do you do to calm your nerves? If you were giving advice as if to someone else what would you say?
Most of our students feel the same about driving tests, what advice do you give them? Is it the same as you would give yourself or something different?
Where once upon a time my worry was mainly about MY performance, I am now more concerned about the needs of my student and how they may cope in a similar situation. By understanding ourselves we can have a better understanding of others, and therefore help them to become more aware of themselves. How do you go about achieving this?
Please feel free to leave a comment below, I would be interested in your thoughts.
Since that experiment, and of course with a more client-centred approach, I no longer look at my diary and think "Oh no, why did I do that?" I now have a diary full of students who are as keen to learn as I am keen to train. So if you ever find yourself doing lots of left hand turns and avoiding right turns, try out the experiment, see how it works for you and your students.