Knowing what good actually looks like
1st October 2022
The key to discovering effective learning
3rd October 2022

Raising standards

One of the reasons why becoming a driving instructor can appear so daunting to some is the variety of the qualification process. There is plenty of scope for seeds of doubt about the standard of driving ability needed to pass part 2 and wondering how hard it is to teach someone. In this blog, I am going to concentrate on the latter worry – what precisely is involved in teaching someone how to drive? 


There are a few aspects to this question which can be broken down as follows: 


  1. What is the required standard that I am supposed to be teaching? 
  2.  How should I teach that standard? 
  3. How do I accommodate pupils with differing needs? 


The first question is easily answered, we have included the driving standards for you; the links are on the “How to qualify” page of this site. 


But the second question is not so easily answered. There are two trains of thought on this subject. In fact, the Driving Standard does make mention of this too. An instructor can have an “instructor-led” approach to their teaching, and it is true that some pupils will favour this, although many will not. Alternatively, an instructor can have a more pupil-centred approach to their teaching, incorporating some “coaching” techniques where the pupil has a lot more say about how the training occurs. Putting it bluntly, some pupils will like to simply be told what driving actions to take, when and how, while others would like the opportunity to discover methods independently. I have always taken the opinion that whatever the pupil says they prefer, I will then adapt to suit their preferences. It is possible for an instructor with a particular persuasion one way or the other to assist any given pupil, eventually, but in terms of making the learning environment as efficient and effective as possible, adapting to suit the pupil would certainly be my preferred method. Learners will learn quicker when they learn in a manner they like. I am also of the opinion that you set no limit to the depth of the learning when a pupil has more say in how they learn. When an instructor simply tells a pupil what to do and when they are limiting the richness of the pupil’s driving ability to be only ever as good as their instructor. And the most convincing reason for a flexible approach to how one should teach would be how enjoyable learning to drive is for the pupil. It simply is not much fun continually being told what to do all the time. It is possible to maintain safety while allowing your pupil much more freedom to discover how to learn well. There is no justification whatsoever, for a pupil having to learn to drive by a driving lesson each week, just because that is all their driving instructor offers. Instructing with a more flexible approach that maximises the learning potential takes more skill, absolutely. Accelerating the learning process without creating adverse effects on the permanence of the understanding and ability or on the safety while practising is offering an enhanced service. This is what BIG TOM offers, and all franchisees will be taught the techniques that facilitate this goal. It is for this reason that customers are prepared to pay circa £2500, in advance, to learn to drive with BIG TOM. 


When it comes to the third question, some self-reflection goes a long way. I can think of many aspects of my working and private life where I have come to know what my weaknesses and strengths are for how I learn effectively. For many reasons it can be borderline infuriating for pupils when they encounter obstacles to learning. It is most definitely an art to be able to properly identify such an obstacle and have tools at one’s disposal for helping a learner to overcome them. Personally, this is the number one reason that I have managed to remain successful over the years. It is simply not the case that just because an instructor explains something to pupil A who then learns that point effectively, the same approach will necessarily work for pupil B or C. Although the following statement sounds judgemental, I am of the firm belief that anyone who does hold that view, will as a result have a severe handicap in being able to help all pupils learn to drive effectively. Empathy goes a long way in the work of a driving instructor and having the skills to help someone overcome problems is what I believe to be the real mark of a good instructor as opposed to the DVSA standards check assessment.  


The purpose of this blog is to try to highlight some of the key worries that people have about being a driving instructor and to try to demonstrate that with good training, it is possible to eliminate these fears by providing first-class tuition. And I make no apologies for making a distinction between mediocre tuition and exceptional tuition. Franchisees that purchase the BIG TOM franchise are buying into this concept of delivering superior quality driving training. The expertise of this kind does not come by cheaply; the instructor is the key component of raising the standards of training. But it should be said it is not for all. There will be no doubt many driving instructors who have no desire to develop their skills to provide a service such as is described in this blog. All I can ask any person who has an interest in joining BIG TOM is to get out of the mindset of mediocre driving lessons – it is not why customers come to us, they really do expect more.