Values of the BIG TOM Franchise
3rd December 2022
The differences between intensive driving courses
4th December 2022

Helping a scared pupil

BIG TOM Franchise owner, Tom Ingram can be seen here working with a pupil who suffers from fear and anxiety throughout the lesson.

The BIG TOM Franchise does not ‘cherry pick’ to work only with naturally more able pupils. In fact, the driving school over the years has successfully worked with a wide range of pupils with varying abilities.  One of the major advantages of the Franchise training programmes is the flexibility they provide to assist all types of pupils. In these days of regulatory scrutiny of driving instructor pass rates, it is very important for BIG TOM instructors’ mental well-being to know that there is no additional pressure when working with a pupil who is learning at a slower rate. While it is true that the efficiency of the training provided is an asset to the reputation of the driving school, this does not come at the expense of adapting to individual learner needs. The quality of the training is not compromised when we work with pupils who take things slower. Although initially, an intensive course has a ‘fixed’ number of hours (dependent on pupil needs), if a pupil progresses at a slower rate for any reason, those used hours on the course were not ‘wasted’, it is still valuable experience for that pupil. It is just a fact that pupils do not operate like robots, so the training programme must be able to adapt to cater for this fact. Our customers are made aware of this fact within the BIG TOM Help Centre that they are invited to access prior to making any bookings – just another example of how there are systems in place to directly manage expectations and outcomes.

If you are considering a change of career and find yourself attracted to becoming a driving instructor, it is important to tell you that the rate of progress pupils make in the learning journey, is not linear. For many different reasons pupils will increase and decrease their learning capacity, it does not follow for example that a pupil who appears to be making slow progress initially will continue at that same rate throughout the training programme. This is one of the aspects that makes the work of a driving instructor intriguing. BIG TOM is wanting to hear from you if are able to identify such nuances and adapt accordingly – a skill that you may well have developed in a previous career or life experience.

And so armed with the knowledge that not all pupils learn at the same rate, what is then interesting to consider is why that might be the case. There can be a whole range of factors: unrealistic expectations, motivation levels, ability to accept feedback, length of training session, outside influencers, pupil is frightened or overconfident, working relationship between pupil and instructor, skills of the instructor, aptitude of pupil, regularity of training sessions, pupil/instructor mental wellbeing, pupil’s previous driving or training experiences and so on. When you hear the question “Do you like working with people?”, the ability of the instructor to recognise what is causing pupil behaviours is a skill normally seen in people who do. When we enjoy what we do, we tend to invest more time in doing it, and a natural consequence of that is that we improve. You could be just what the BIG TOM Franchise is looking for.

Contact us for more information: 01928 508 833


The breakdown of the video is as follows:

Minute 1: Pupil anxiety over stalling

Minute 2: Q&A for testing knowledge and understanding; demo from instructor, different techniques used for different situations

Minute 3: Pupil seeking clarification

Minute 4: Instructor re-asking question to confirm new knowledge (to help allay concerns expressed at start of lesson). Clarifying goal for the lesson

Minute 5: Imagination – possible increased risks

Minute 6: How to manage risks

Minute 7: Recalling knowledge for setting up. Agreeing plan for directions given and level of verbals from instructor. SAFETY CRITICAL INCIDENT – too close when passing parked car – duals used by instructor, instructor tells pupil of their use and why

Minute 8: Pupil and instructor get out of car to see position of vehicles in road. Clarifying knowledge of gaps needed to pass parked cars

Minute 9: Q&A for why not applying knowledge – distraction for pupil due to other risk. Alternative options for managing situation

Minute 10: How to judge position in road when passing parked cars

Minute 11: Transferring skills already got for new situation. One key learning point for this driving lesson. Instructor to prompt pupil when opportunity arises to apply new knowledge

Minute 12: Reassuring pupil for effort levels and conscientiousness

Minute 13: Coping mechanism to help errors not to not compound – use of breathing. Pupil self-analysis

Minute 14: Q&A for knowledge and understanding of observations at junctions. Instructor asking if any questions

Minute 15: Use of praise. Q&A for behaviours of drivers vs safe drivers

Minute 16: Use of signals and mirrors. Instructor asking for any other examples – silence to help thinking

Minute 17:Instructor offers example- use of imagination. Explanation of use of mirrors

Minute 18: Testing for meaning in practical example of type of observations and why

Minute 19: Instructor gives answer to help pupil. Clarifying use of mirrors by referring to DVSA publication to build trust between instructor and pupil

Minute 20: Use of analogy outside of driving to help with analysing cause & effect, pupil “scared” – use of word cautious instead.