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22nd June 2023
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4th July 2023

Driving instructor competence

In this blog we discuss the manner in which a driving instructor’s competence changes with the passing of time and what factors affect the change and in which way.

It is generally accepted that in all aspects of living, the more that we do something, the more competent we become at it. This is as true at work as it is in social situations.

Don’t like speaking in public? Speak more in public.

Lack the endurance to run a marathon? Run more.

Find that increasing sales conversions is really difficult when speaking to customers? Speak to more customers.

With an open mind, a willingness to pay attention, and a good dollop of good old-fashioned perseverance, in time, you will improve.

This is equally as true with driving instructors giving driving training. To begin with, you might find a pattern to outcomes, such as:

I find myself getting really stressed at my pupil’s progress – or lack of it!

I realised today that we were practising in entirely the wrong location – it was really unsafe.

There is so much to the way examiners mark driving tests that I just don’t understand.

Why is it that when my pupils go to take their driving test they fail due to nerves, but other instructors don’t have those kinds of pupils? 


Typically, we go through a spell of ‘pain’ while in effect, we practise. It is the continual practice that helps us to gain insight, confidence and competence. And much as learning to ride a bike or ski inevitably means falling over when a mistake is made, there are mistakes made with the pupils that we work with immediately after qualifying.

The consequence of these mistakes includes pupils leaving and going elsewhere, our driving school car having vehicle collisions, our test results triggering DVSA data points and our mental state feeling pretty frustrated – to name just a few.

Sometimes, a driving instructor will lack the self-awareness to appreciate why the outcomes happen: in much the same way as a teacher wonders why their students are so much louder and unruly than when they are with other teachers, or perhaps a shop owner cannot understand why customers do not come in and browse around their shop. It is not always obvious where the root cause of outcomes lies, many people will naturally look outwards rather than inwards. And this is one reason why the industry suffers a high turnaround of instructors – they have qualified but cannot understand why the job is like walking uphill on sand – extremely difficult.

But how much practice will it take before a new instructor will start to see improvement? Well, that is a question that has no guaranteed answer. There will of course be driving instructors with many years of experience who run a driving school that suffers from high cancellation rates, low driving test pass rates, cash flow issues and they feel pretty dissatisfied with their lot. For many, it becomes more of a pastime or hobby than a full-time career that offers a reliable 60k+ revenue. And maybe, once an instructor makes that mindset shift to accepting that is how their business is going to go, perhaps that is just fine. But for many, as in thousands across the UK, it is not fine. There are many who find it irritating beyond belief that they find themselves travelling so far to give a pupil a driving lesson, or that they are still unable to break the £45 per hour pricing, or that their working day is so long. Many instructors feel isolated, fearful and are fed up with providing driving training to pupils who just want to go to test regardless of their driving ability.

Becoming very good at something will require effort. If you want to earn a revenue that is above the industry average, then you have to behave in a manner that most other instructors do not. There will need to be a willingness to, first of all, recognise the current level of ability and accept that in order to improve will involve the process of being monitored so that accurate feedback can be given. Not everyone wants to accept their weaknesses. Not everyone is prepared to be assessed. Not everyone is able to accept and constructively build on feedback. What many people do instead is read a book, watch a video or just talk to other people  – a far less demanding activity, that conveniently prevents one from having to look inwards. These are the behaviours that result in average outcomes. If your version of CPD is simply to do what everyone else is doing, don’t be too surprised if the outcomes you suffer are equally normal and average. Expertise doesn’t arrive without effort. There will of course be some who do possess self-awareness skills (because of their background and previous experiences), and with some self-education, these people will indeed see improvement if they can discipline themselves to convert thought processes into action. But self-improvement is not easy and not for everyone. It is generally far easier to blame outcomes on pupils, examiners, test routes, the weather and all of the rather unpredictable events that arise on the public roads of modern-day travel.

But if you do desire successful outcomes, and you want your business to provide you with a reliable income while also having the flexibility to ensure a healthy work-life balance, then get in touch with us at BIG TOM – call now on 01928 508 833.  It is possible to raise competency levels so that the output of your work is effective, satisfying, stress-free and exceeds average. But call us so that we can begin to talk through the process with you – all you need to bring with you is a small amount of time and a large amount of desire.