- Allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways
- Russell Smith (Author of Curiosities of South Australia)
- Keith Maidment School of Motoring
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New drivers in the U Fully functional driving simulator software designed to practice a driving passenger vehicle with automatic transmission at home. Driving in a safe simulation environment without any stress Gerald Nabarro, forthright MP and staunch motoring publicity pundit, was instrumental in founding the first ADI association to be built on solid business like lines.
He then explained that this was just to cover his expenses.
Driving Instructors Limited was launched at the Union Jack Club in London and became the first truly democratic national institution for instructors to operate using efficient, business-orientated, but still democratic principles. The life of DIL was a very short but merry one. Shortly afterwards the BSM had changed hands. Anthony Jacobs now Sir Anthony and David Haddon, breezed into the driver training business almost like a pair of asset-strippers, but they did change the business structure of the company quite remarkably.
Instructors were required to become self-employed, except for staff instructors and some managers. Initially when the new bosses took over, the first thing they changed was the training programme. They expected to double the number of training cars within a year or two. Their success was obvious and soon BSM became the major training force for many future ADIs; when they headhunted me in as their new head of training my role was explained perfectly. This was my brief. My role was to retrain their staff instructors into what was required by the Department of Transport.
In the Inland Revenue began to look more closely at their guidelines about self-employment and within a year or two BSM looked at ways in which they could launch the BSM as a franchised operation. BSM even found another trading company to buy out. They bought the Spud-u-Like hot potato franchise to get to know franchising better. He lasted about two years. Naturally there were almost continuous ongoing jokes about having a microwave oven inside each BSM pyramid on the roof of their cars to cook a chicken for pupils who passed and a spud for those who failed.
The first time a car plus pyramid was driven through a car wash it did seventeen pounds worth of damage to the pyramid and seven hundred pounds damage to the car wash. Initially David Acheson tried to franchise individual branches as a private venture for individuals who were invited to buy them as a speculative business venture. Naturally this failed partly because the operators had no idea of how driver training worked, and in also due to the fact that at least half the instructor strength of any branch had to be fully qualified.
But this essential lifeline was no longer available under the branch franchise system. Later, BSM tried again, this time in , where all of the instructors were given individual franchises. Although the system has come into various forms of criticism, the freelance-franchise approach apparently still works; but who benefits most may be open to discussion. The Council was formally launched at a meeting in Fulham on 30th October , with HPC Pat Murphy as chairman and myself as secretary of its initial steering committee. These latter two organisations almost immediately merged.
As soon as the success of the NJC was noted, three or four local associations pressurised the NJC for wider membership by including local groups as well as major players. Although this was seen as democratic it also meant that a vote by the delegate from a local group of twenty or so instructors had the same value as one on the national bodies.
Allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways
Consequently problems on representation arose. Indeed some organisations, such as the Institute of Classroom Teachers of Driving continued their representation even though they had long since ceased to exist. So the BSM remained the only national organisation — although they have never represented their franchised instructors by asking for their views — which still stays to this day in the NJC.
Driving Instructors Limited, in the format envisaged by Gerald Nabarro, did not last very long. But it did point the way to running a successful organisation. This factor was seized upon by one or two leading lights in the ADI world who had become disillusioned by the failed attempt to unite other factions. For a few hours the industry, for the first and only time, officially had one governing body. Sadly once again the merging association bosses reneged on the democratic decision of their governing bodies. Although the Motion had been carried it was never ratified.
It soon transpired that potential loss of office, and possibly loss of face, and other personal benefits felt by some of the senior officers at the time were the real cause. The last, and quite notably the largest, of the national associations to be formed was the DIA.
The Driving Instructors Association was launched on It had the initial financial support of an international insurance brokerage that specialized in re-insurance of driving school vehicles. From the very beginning it attracted many new members, especially trainee and newly qualified instructors.
What had been envisaged by DIL was a proprietory company which would take care of all the financial responsibility, leaving the membership to control the political, technical and instructional paths. Accordingly the DIA soon attracted enough members to make it a viable success.
The reasons why so many new ADIs joined is that they saw an organisation which is not governed by their competitors, or driving school bosses who wanted to keep control of the industry for themselves. They saw that the future could lie in the hands of the individual instructor. Later, in , it moved to its own premises on the outskirts of London, and later moved to its present home in the industrial heart of Croydon, yet within easy reach of the M The argument put forward for this refusal was that the DIA had asked for sight of the NJC constitution before paying its initial membership subscription.
Apart from BSM their membership now consists of twenty smaller associations most with an average membership of twenty or so. Democracy is not quite the order of the day there; one organisation has only one vote; and new members are not allowed to stand for office until they have been in membership for some time, and each successive chairman and officers are apparently confirmed in office by the outgoing council, who expect to be voted back in en-bloc. Nevertheless the NJC training policy has paid off, and many instructor trainers have been through the training courses first begun in At one time the NJC briefly flirted with the idea of recruiting individual membership, but dropped this when it met with no real success.
At the end of it has been suggested that they try to recruit individual instructors again, but no details of representation or fees is available. Before all national instructor conferences were usually convivial family affairs culminating with the re-election of the same old gangs.
But these were changed and events took on a much grander scale; and they were working conferences and exhibitions instead of jolly days out combined with a few working sessions. National Conferences and Exhibitions on the scale of Drivex, held from to at Wembley, Silverstone and Donington, had never been known before; but they brought a whole new perspective on view.
Russell Smith (Author of Curiosities of South Australia)
The DIA opened its membership to anyone who wanted. Trainee instructors were accepted because it was recognised that they needed more help in their first few months of qualifying than at any other time. The DIA also brought a fresh look at management by committee. These range from the Driving Instructors Manual which is the only loose-leaf book of its kind.
It covers the whole everything that a driving instructor should know coupled with the benefit of a regular up-date service so that copies do not go out of date with each change of law, pricing or regulation. In the early s the MSA also went through its own cathartic change. This partnership took a few financial gambles, including an expensive magazine which failed. I assumed he had been aware of the financial crisis that was looming and chose to hand over the problem for someone else to discover and solve.
It was twelve months before I first became aware of this potential debt, and of the role that the MSA might be called on to play. I was forced to take legal advice to prevent facing a long, involved and very expensive court case that we had been told we would win, but the litigants involved might plead bankruptcy to avoid paying their costs and any damages. This would also give a free rein for a joint Motor Schools and Driving Instructors Association to control the industry with a common board of management. The proposal even had Department of Transport support, and may well have allowed control of the ADI Register to be in the hands of instructors, in a similar way that the Law Society and the British Medical Association have control over their respective professional members.
Most of this was eaten up in legal and settlement fees, and they moved to rented premises in Stockport under the two-man business partnership of Jim Beckett and John Lepine which lasted a few more years, before Jim dropped out, and John took over as sole general manager. However, in comparison, the DIA has grown both in size and capability even more dramatically.
Driving Magazine, and Driving Instructor, were and still are unique publications, with international recognition. The DIA was able to use the power of its huge membership, and went outside the industry to obtain independent ratification and moderation of new examination standards and status. The DipDI was conceived in , developed and then taken to the Associated Examining Board and they accepted the idea. On this level at least professionalism is already obtainable within the industry through accepted academic routes. Nearly eighteen years after it was launched, with thousands of successful Diploma examination passes, the Assessment and Qualification Alliance — is very interested in changing the style of the Diploma examinations to suit more clearly the needs of the 21st Century.
Details of some of these suggested recommendations are shown more fully in appendix three of this project. Had the Register of Approved Driving Instructors been a register of driving schools, as so many driving school owners demanded in , perhaps the history of driver training in Britain would be completely different.
Certainly there would have been far fewer than the 30, plus instructors around at the turn of the 21st century. Recent figures for indicate that memberships of the only two large national associations are:. However there is a considerable amount of cross membership too.
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There are probably about 11, ADIs who belong to one or both. Although DIA publish their membership total regularly up-dated according to bank receipts or direct debits, other organisations are often reluctant to state their actual paid up membership. This is natural of course as they hope to gain more influence with the DSA by quoting maximum numbers; but when annual financial returns are made at AGMs it is relatively easy to check the veracity of membership statements.
More recently two other national organisations have been formed. The Federation has never been offered consultative status, whilst the Bradford group had their consultative status removed in , possibly because their membership figures did not match their claims. There are probably less than 15, instructors in the country, whose sole full time business is teaching driving. Some do it part-time in conjunction with another job Fire service, Police etc ; others are retired and give part-time tuition only as a means to supplement their pension.
Keith Maidment School of Motoring
Very many would like to work full-time but cannot get enough business. So their part time status is very much an involuntary one. Promotion, such as is found in academic, commercial or business life, does not exist in the driver training industry. And this is the crux of the whole problem presently facing the industry. Once an instructor is registered as an Approved Driving Instructor he or she may remain on the DSA Register until they choose to retire. Although there is a legal requirement to be re-tested every four years or less and to pay the re-registration fees, nothing else is required.
This has to be paid before the expiry of the existing certificate for instructors to remain on the Register. Those who fail to pay by the due date are removed immediately. Only a very few people can claim to have the entrepreneurial skills to establish a large school. In practice many of those who follow this path never qualify as instructors themselves. They use their management and business skills to greater effect instead. In many smaller cases they simply act as an advertising, recruiting and booking agency, whilst the instructors provide their own cars, but all working under the same localised school name.
In other cases, such as the BSM or AA the Driving School, all the cars are supplied, and replaced regularly, however, the instructors, once they have taken up the franchise, are often usually responsible for finding their own clients, and bookings. Nevertheless once instructors have qualified and have decided to stay in the industry, many options exist for them to gain additional status — and the potential for extra business — provided they are willing to look for and take these opportunities. In some cases this is purely for their own benefit as part of their desire to become better instructors, or to learn more about the trade, industry or vocation they have selected.
Every year more than two and half thousand new instructors qualify. A similar number leave. The franchise conditions are fixed — usually for a year — with very strict conditions imposed preventing instructors from leaving the franchisor or of continuing to work in the same locality as an independent instructor. Needless to say, those who have failed are still required to pay back their various loans borrowed to pay their training fees. Most successful instructors eventually see their only path to business success is to set up on their own.
There is very little profit in working a franchise, although there is not always a lot more gained by working independently, until it is possible to charge sensible fees. Indeed many franchise holders leave the industry at the earliest opportunity because their fees and other running costs are greater than their earnings.
Although there is a very low success rate of potential instructors making it through to full ADI status there is a tremendous business potential in training new instructors. Indeed many driving schools have completely abandoned the business of teaching learner drivers because it is so much easier to get money from those who want to teach driving. New learner drivers are unwilling to pay more than two or three hundred pounds for their training.
But those who feel they would like to teach driving are easily parted from sums of two or three thousand pounds, because they assume they will soon get their money back. Sadly many do not even get past the first two stages. According to statistics supplied by the ADI Registrar, at least 30, would-be instructors begin some sort of training every year.
Nearly all of them fail at the first two fences and never try again. At last, twenty-three years afterwards, there is the glimmer of real hope for progress. The two bodies have merged to become a single body, ORDIT, the Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers, and it is anticipated that all trainers — as well as their premises — will soon be registered and monitored.
The ADITE register, supported by the MSA and the BSM, was content to register premises — provided at least a proportion of those involved in the actual training given by that establishment had been tested. As the industry enters the 21st Century with computerised theory testing for both learner drivers and instructors alike there is a desperate need for unity in the industry like never before.
The current climate for creating better forms of continuing professional development CPD for all instructors will require all ADIs who intend to remain in the industry to change the way they operate their businesses. This will also affect the way that new trainee instructors are recruited, trained and encouraged to become more professional. Because of the current pressures for openness in all government matters not only are learner drivers and their instructors given every detail of the requirements of the driving test and a detailed verbal and written de briefing of what they did wrong; they are also given well sold by the DSA all the answers to their theory examinations before they begin to study.
One thing is certain, since the DSA has started selling its training and testing books they have made a lot of money from them; especially those giving answers to examination questions. This is in direct contrast to their first four years of operation when the DSA lost six million pounds — as a monopoly.
I never let anyone take the test unless I was convinced they would pass. The following fully detailed marking sheet given to pupils and ADIs must surely help in some way. It will be interesting to see if the pass rate improves as a result of it. Continuing professional development is the stated aim of the Driving Standards Agency. Currently they are expecting CPD to supplement or even replace check tests as a means of grading instructors.
However precisely what form this CPD will be required to take is a matter for conjecture. CPD can mean whatever you want it to mean. And when associations talk with the DSA it is obvious that they have open minds on the whole subject. About the only fact the DSA will disclose at this stage is that they want the industry to determine what they can find out for themselves, and what the various national organisations can offer to their members in the way of continuing professional development.
For more than thirty five years now, I and a small number of trainers with similar aims, have fought every way to have driver training available in schools and colleges. I was able to demonstrate how thisc ould be done successfully in Wincheser and other places. Even now there are a few florward-lookiing head teachers who see the potential for the satisfactorily development of good driving attitudes in young and new drivers which will really set them up as "Safe Drivers for Life",. Nevertheless, perhaps they will one day. Or it could be that delegates would need to acquire a certificate of satisfactory attendance to qualify.
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At the other end of the scale are the various external training, testing and qualifications that are available which will be required. Experience of teaching driving in grammar and other schools might even be acceptable by the DSA as suitable for C. There are quite a few good instructors who are very well established and who are able to cope with the challenges besetting the rest of the industry. Without a great deal of formal business advertising they always maintain a waiting list of pupils. When you book your practical driving test you should say if you have any special needs or disabilities.
There are a number of facilities to help. You still take the same driving test as everyone else, no matter how serious your disability is. More time might be allowed for your test if you have certain special needs. It will give the examiner time to talk to you about your disability and any adaptations fitted to your vehicle. You can bring your own interpreter for your practical driving test. They must be at least 16 years old.
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Your approved driving instructor can be your interpreter. The examiner will tell you what will happen by using written notes at the start of the test if you are deaf or have hearing difficulties. They will also look at you to help you lip read what they are saying if you find that helpful.
The examiner will usually give directions to you as hand signals. These will be explained and shown to you using written cards before your test starts. You can take a driving test at any stage of your pregnancy. However, you must be able and willing to do an emergency stop. At the start of the practical driving test, you will have an eyesight test. The examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a parked vehicle.
You can write down what you see on the number plate if you have learning difficulties or do not speak English. Your examiner will know what kinds of reasonable adjustments to make for the independent driving part of your test if you said you have special needs when you booked your test.
You might be able to choose to follow a set of directions, supported by a diagram.