Is your driving instructor up to speed?

Learner driver in a white car with a male instructor

Learning to drive is an expensive business, and the cost of motoring is proving so prohibitive that almost half (43%) of would-be young motorists opted out of taking lessons last summer – hardly surprising given Driving Standards Agency research shows the average person needs 47 hours of tuition with a qualified instructor, and that each hour can cost anywhere between £15 and £30. So if you (or your kids) are determined to take to the road, you’ll want to make sure the instructor you employ is up to the job – and to help ensure you make the right choice, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has devised a simpler and clearer grading system for tutors. 

Making the grade

The new standards check for driving instructors kicks in from April 7, 2014, when they’ll be given one of the following grades:

  • A grade (85% or over) – an overall high standard of instruction
  • B grade (60% or over) – a sufficient level of competence
  • C grade (less than 60%) – an unsatisfactory performance

This new grading system has been devised with learner drivers in mind - should it make things easier for you to make an informed decision when choosing an instructor. The DVSA plans to keep working with the industry to help top grade instructors promote the higher level of competence they’ve achieved and make sure learner drivers are getting the best tuition available. During the new standards check, examiners will assess how well the instructor meets the objectives set out in the National Standard for Driver and Rider Training, and any instructor who receives a ‘fail’ grade will undergo another standards check within 12 weeks to show they have upped their game and can meet the required standards. And here’s how they’ll be examined…

Instructors under the spotlight

When being assessed, a driving instructor will take a pupil on a normal one-hour driving lesson during which the examiner will look for evidence the instructor has identified and agreed the learning needs with the pupil. They will then assess how they help the pupil improve his or her ability to deal with certain situations. Instructors will be marked on 17 areas of competence, which are grouped into three categories:

  • Lesson planning
  • Risk management
  • Teaching and learning skills

Once the lesson is over, the instructor will be given his or her test result and a copy of the assessment form. Instructors will automatically fail if they score seven or less in the risk management category or if the examiner has to stop the lesson because the instructor has put themself or someone else in danger. So, if your instructor turns up one day and is looking particularly hassled as there’s someone else in the car, do them a favour and make it a good lesson!

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