To help put this problem in context, the improvement in driving competency can be reduced or even reduced to zero when a pupil perceives no link between practice – feedback – practice – progress. Some pupils would just prefer to ‘move on’ even though they really haven’t achieved the current goal. A real example of this can be seen in this video here The highly motivated and enthusiastic pupil would very much like to progress from the topic of junctions after this driving lesson to a new topic but you will see the attentive driving instructor is noticing gaps in ability from the PREVIOUS topic of “moving off/pulling over”. How easy it would be for a driving instructor to allow themselves to get wrapped in the positive mindset of pressing on, when in fact, care must be taken to build layers of learning on firm foundations. A fairly common criticism that is levelled at driving instructors from new pupils, is that their previous instructor was “holding them back”. Firstly, not all pupils have the self-awareness levels required to accurately conclude they are being unjustifiably restrained from progress. But secondly, and perhaps more to the point, one has to wonder how qualified a pupil is to know what ‘normal’ progress is. The rate at which pupils learn differs quite considerably for a variety of reasons, and while at one point in the programme progress may appear slower, at another point, progress may accelerate. It is of course true that the efficiency of the training will also be dictated by the skills of the driving instructor, it is something that is rarely talked about in the industry. A more skilled instructor will be able to accurately assess when progress is being made and the time is right to move on, whereas perhaps a more cautious instructor will require their pupil to demonstrate more evidence of ability before they are prepared to move on.
The benefit provided by the BIG TOM training programmes is that the length of the intensive driving course has been carefully assessed precisely to prevent any ‘shallow learning’ because there is not enough training hours, or wasted time because the pupil is far more advanced. As a franchisee with BIG TOM it is reassuring to know that these types of issues have been carefully worked through to the best of everyone’s ability prior to the in-car training. There are systems in place to raise a flag should there be an apparent risk of mismatch between previous driving experience and the type of course chosen; this ensures that the lines of communication between BIG TOM Admin, the customer and the BIG TOM instructor are consistent and clear.
Some possible reasons for a pupil wanting to press on regardless of competence may be financial in nature, there could be parental/peer pressures, or the pupil may have external pressure to get a full driver’s licence by a certain timescale. None of these causes of impatience is invalid in the eyes of the pupil but unfortunately, that does not mean that they create no risk to eventual outcomes. To any new driving instructor, they may not quite recognise the potential pitfall of moving on to new topics too early. Rarely do flaws in driving technique or intellectual skill magically improve without focused practice. In just the same way that a proficient driving instructor is attentive to the pupil’s standard of driving, a pupil will also need to be attentive to the elements contained within a particular drill: the two go hand in hand for successful outcomes.
The reason we as driving instructors must try not to have our professional assessment of competence sidelined by our pupils is that as this video here demonstrates, sometimes they do not know, what they don’t know [view between minute 1 and minute 2].
When a pupil is handed over to the appropriate BIG TOM driving instructor, detail is provided about the previous driving experience and current competence. This is necessary as the chosen training programme (they are all bespoke) has been carefully chosen with this in mind. This means that the driving instructor has got clarity about what is needed and therefore cannot be (for want of a better term) bamboozled by an impatient pupil.