The DITC is the premium driver training industry information network.
A UK collective bringing ADIs and PDIs together with the wider driver training industry.
Finding your way in this sector of business can be a real challenge. That challenge starts when trying to find training to qualify, continues when you start teaching, and can prevent you from reaching your peak. Our aim is to unite ADIs, PDIs, products, services and support.
We are not an association, in fact one of our core values is to encourage instructors to join an association for national support. We are something new, exciting, challenging and supportive.
A signposting point for industry tools and services, a meeting point for those looking for more, and a market place to fill your toolbox.
With Davina McCall returning to our screens this evening to discuss the little-understood topic of perimenopause in Sex, Mind and the Menopause, the DITC shares its Perimenopause resource page. In association with Women's Health Concern and the British Menopause Society, we want to support all members of our community in all areas of their working lives.
As you are likely aware the DVSA has confirmed price increases of about 1.5%. Adding 90p to the cost of the standard weekday practical driving test. Full info here There have been issues in the past where test swaps had to be like-for-like (i.e. weekend tests) and we did not know what would happen regarding pre and post price rise tests being exchanged. The DVSA have responded that:
"The fee is charged at the point of the initial test booking, you have then secured a test appointment. You can then change that booking for a slot that is after the date of the fee change."
With thanks to DITC member Peter Brace for raising the question.
We have also asked the question being discussed on most media forums: What is the future for wearing masks on lessons?
With the rules changing on Thursday, where do we stand with the DVSA. They have promised a response. Having taken legal advice, the DITC recommendation is to reflect DVSA SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). IF something were to happen that resulted in any type of litigation the first question would be 'What does your regulating body do?'. We respect everybody's right to choose and any exemptions but also want all professional ADIs to be representing best practices.
Car and trailer rules coming into force We wrote to you on 23 November to let you know that the changes to B+E testing had been re-laid in parliament to restart the process for this change.
The legislation has now been passed and the changes have been brought into force today, 16 December.
What this means for car drivers towing a trailer Drivers who passed their car driving test from 1 January 1997 will be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) without passing an additional car and trailer test.
DVSA stopped doing car and trailer tests from 20 September.
You can find out more information about the new rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car on GOV.UK
Changes to driving licences DVLA will update affected driving licence records to reflect the changes.
The car and trailer category (B+E) will be added to the driving licence when a new photocard driving licence is issued.
Make sure you tow safely Although the law on who can tow a trailer has changed, your responsibilities have not. So whatever you’re towing, make it SAFE:
Service – has it been serviced recently?
Air in tyres – check pressure, tread depth and condition.
Fit the breakaway cable or safety chain and check electrical connections.
Examine lights, mirrors, load and weight limit, and do the jockey wheel test.
All car drivers wishing to tow a trailer for leisure or business will be encouraged to undertake voluntary training through an accreditation scheme which we are developing with help from the trailer industry and training providers.
The scheme is planned to be launched early next year and will focus on a core module for all drivers, with sector specific modules for different towing activities.
One of the big errors people are making is analysing what is in front of them. A data set of one pupil, not the twists and turns of the journey.
It reminds me of the blind men who encountered a strange new beast, called an elephant. For those who do not know the story:
They men decide "We must touch it and inspect what is in front of us. ". So, when they found it they felt around it. The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, "The elephant is like a thick snake". For another one whose hand reached its ear, “It is like a kind of fan.” As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said “The elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk.” The man who placed his hand upon its side said “The elephant is a wall". Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.
Depending on who is telling the tale, it results in confusion, fear, anger or violence, but the moral is always related to the need to see the bigger picture.
Personally, I think the mechanism is probably sound and will identify a data set who may benefit in DVSA engagement. More likely, it will encourage some to think twice before taking that 50/50 or short notice pupil. Sadly, we have to trust in the DVSA Enforcement Team to identify those mavericks that are not displaying a weakness but a specialism. They may still require development, but it’s likely in psychological mastery than development of car control. Possibly benefitting from the training of those like Diane Hall or The Guild of Mindful Driver Trainers
Where I think the DVSA need to act is the inaccuracy of the data. From examiner error to unaccompanied tests. I still don’t feel that the solution (the standards check) equals the problem (poor test stats), in the same way that I don’t think a driving test pass makes you a good driver. However, this goal of ‘safe driving for life’ seems to be ours and not the DVSA. Maybe it is unfair to expect maximum standards from a minimum standards agency, and maybe this is a banner that we need to be taking ownership of independently as an industry.
As most of you will be aware the DVSA has announced their first ADI focussed step to "improve the waiting list" with a focus on improving pass rates. Email contents available here The DITC chose to wait for NASP and its component associations to speak first before publicly responding. Their Q&A response is below and they do not seem to have made a public comment for or against it.
We have now written to the DVSA directly which we will publish shortly, as well as writing to DIA, ADINJC, and MSA directly to ask them for an understanding of their stance on the move.
We believe that the DVSA have missed the mark on 2 key points: 1. ADIs are under incredible pressure. ALL the calls we are receiving include mental health concerns and a need for support. In our opinion now is not the time to threaten their livelihood in this way. 2. It doesn't solve the issue that they are facing. Delivering a lesson on a Standards Check does not reflect an ability to judge or ensure test readiness. There are many better ways to address this, including not ending tests early and allowing ADIs to sit in on tests.
On a personal note: The DITC was founded to unite ADIs in their industry and reduce reliance on DVSA 'leadership', as this is not their place (Through their own admission). It is together that we will grow and succeed. However, nobody expected this level of mental and emotional stress, and with little scope to do something about it. Things we have been encouraging: 1. Control your capacity - Decide what you can manage (genuinely manage not stretch to) and stick to it. 2. Control the clock - Decide the hours you are willing to work and if it doesn't fit don't do it. 3. Lay out the table at the start - Most issues come from poor communication and not understanding the rules. Set the rules. Be honest, fair and clear. 4. Have someone to talk to.
Before the digital ink was dry, the DVSA make the first announcement following this mornings email
"DVSA Say: Prioritising standards checks and engagement call In the message issued earlier today we explained what we are doing next to help reduce car driving test waiting times.
It also explains the important role you play in reducing driving test waiting times and how we’ll be supporting instructors who need it the most. We now want to give you more information about how this will work.
Prioritising standards checks As we re-start standards checks, we have focused our resources on potential instructors with driving and instructional ability qualification tests booked, and those instructors who last had a substandard assessment or have failed to attend their check. We will now start to invite ADIs we have prioritised to book their standards check.
To help us support you, as well as conducting standards checks, we will be using information from your driving test analysis report. This data, which is also available to you, is a summary of driving faults, serious faults and examiner intervention faults committed by your pupils on their driving test. We can only help you if you display your ADI badge (certificate) in the window during tests.
Based on these faults, will look at the average outcomes over the last year to identify instructors who appear to be presenting candidates that are demonstrating a lower standard.
Using this information will also help us identify the many high performing ADIs who are well above the national average. This means that they are less likely to need our support so we can use our staff and resources to help those who do.
Engagement call We will also be offering a voluntary engagement call 8 weeks ahead of your standards check. On the call the examiner will talk you through your ‘ADI driver test analysis report,' which you will receive before your call.
Developed with the support of the ADI National Associations Strategic Partnership and some ORDIT trainers, the engagement call will take around 20 to 30 minutes and is an opportunity for some continued professional development.
Our ADI examiner will use the discussion and help you to identify further support and guidance available to you that can improve the performance of you and your pupils.
We will provide you with an email summary of the call including helpful links to documents and guidance.
Supporting you We want to support you to ensure you are providing the best level of training. High-quality instruction leads to high-quality learner drivers who’ll be better prepared to pass their test first-time.
Reducing the number of candidates who need to retake their driving test will help to tackle the waiting list.
You can still request a standards check if you feel you require one by emailing PADI@dvsa.gov.uk and detailing the reasons why."
We might not like it, but it does make sense. We know that STANDARDS CHECKS strike fear into many of us, but they are a necessary evil - and importantly an opportunity.
We are in the job of training, of improvement and of safety. These checks provide a chance to reflect, grow and develop what you do. PLEASE do not 'give it a go' - Like your pupils and the DVSA message behind this, we want you to be 'test ready'. How?
The DVSA has said: "The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) needs learners’ and the driver training industry’s support to help us build the nation back better.
Safely reducing the current waiting times for a driving test is a matter of national importance to enable people to be able to drive to access employment, education, healthcare and social activities. You have a crucial role to play in this.
We want you to know we fully appreciate how difficult the past 17 months have been for your businesses, lessons and pupils’ tests. We know how frustrated and disappointed your pupils feel. We therefore want to share some of the results of the lesson demand research and explain what we’ve done to reduce test waiting times, what the next steps are and what this will mean to you and your pupils.
Driving lessons research findings
Thank you to those of you who completed the survey.
The research findings reveal that 8 out of 10 of driving instructors who responded to survey currently have a waiting list – and almost half of those have 11 or more people waiting to start driving lessons.
We will use these findings to help us understand more about the demand you’re facing for driving lessons and the future demand for driving tests.
Communication research findings
The research findings reveal that many of the driving instructors who responded to the survey said they’d find local test centre engagement events useful.
As a result of this, we are planning to trial a series of these in a number of locations over the autumn. We will share more information about this trial as soon as we are able to.
Helping those driving instructors who need it most
We want to help those driving instructors who find it difficult to meet the standards. This will allow us to prioritise those instructors who need the most support.
High-quality instruction leads to high-quality learner drivers who’ll be better prepared to pass their test first-time. Reducing the number of candidates who need to retake their driving test will really help to tackle the current waiting list.
We will be sharing more details about how this will work with you very shortly.
Increasing the number of test appointments
The latest phase of the new driving examiner testing framework trial has now concluded, and we are now planning to extend this to more locations ahead of agreeing a final roll out date.
Measures to help learners fully prepare for the test and further modernise the driving test
We are also developing a range of other regulatory measures aimed at making every test count. They will encourage learners to be fully prepared and modernise further elements of the driving test.
Any measures will be subject to consultation. We will give more details on these as soon as possible, but the measures being considered include:
• increasing the number of days a candidate must wait before applying for a further test if they have failed • increasing the number of days’ notice a candidate must give DVSA to cancel or reschedule their test without losing their fee • changing the way the eyesight element of the test is conducted • introducing a digital test pass badge
Exploring ways to help learner drivers and their families understand how long it takes to learn to drive
Over the summer we will also be surveying the friends and family of learner drivers to gather feedback to help develop messaging to manage their expectations and encourage them not to take their test before they are ready.
This will be supported by the research we carried out in 2019 with learner drivers and driving instructors to help understand what would encourage learner drivers to have more driving practice."
The DITC thoughts:
Firstly, it is very clearly stated that these will "be subject to consultation", so everything is conjecture and opinion from here down. However, we have to acknowledge that something needs to be done. We are speaking to hundreds of ADIs who are seriously concerned for their own mental health. The demand for help from learners and parents/partners of learners is like living next door to a woodpecker incessantly banging but with little one can do about it. They have exhausted all their resources and still there seems to be little light at the end of the tunnel.
Generally speaking, Instructors are the helpers, problem solvers and carers of the community. This means they feel the pressure more than most. Our advice is:
• Set your hours and stick to them • Set your pupil numbers and stick to them • Accept that you cannot help everyone, so focus on doing the best you can for those you have • Change your voicemail to reflect your position - Just new learners? A tighter area? Etc. • If you haven't previously, consider published prices to 'pre-qualify' enquiries
In response to the DVSA announcement, our thoughts are that we expect a KPI based approach. KPIs are Key Performance Indicators, and we know that DVSA monitors fault and pass rates. We, therefore, expect them to target instructors with below-average results based on this management information. You can request a copy of your report stats from email@example.com
A drive toward improvement and readiness, rather than "Just come back, we will see you soon".
And possibly iPad based eyesight tests rather than the numberplate based checks. This sounds questionable, but opticians use a similar digital approach and it would save time getting the tape measure out!
We welcome your input and thoughts!
P.S. If we do go digital - DITC members can get student discounts on iPads and other tech solutions with their TOTUM card.
The proposed increase is 1.5% and they point out that most fees have not increased since 2010. (Full message copied below) They are claiming the improvements will help them to continue to improve the services and how they are delivered.
Proposed examples are: Car Theory Test - Currently £23 - Increased to £23.40 Car Driving Test - Currently £62 - Increased to £62.90
MOT Slot fee - Currently £2.05 - Increased to £2.08
What do you think? (Comments below)
Chris' thoughts: The knee jerk reaction after the last year in which both pupils and instructors have suffered both mentally and financially is a natural one. However, when you look at the figures and times scale it is a nominal change. In fact the pence increase is a little annoying and I would rather they added a round pound to the test prices. That said - we need action and engagement from the DVSA. There have been some really positive engagements like yesterdays transparencies for those taking ADI Part 2 tests. If they are working with us and listening to us (Things like the B+e changes and issues getting tests) then I am happy to support this.
One final note - Is the ADI/PDI badge fee changing?
Ian's thoughts: They have held prices for a long time, and it is probably about time that they do increase. We have to remember that the theory test was brought DOWN in price from £31 (Oct 14/15). Maybe this £1 increase on the test will allow some of the instructors struggling against market forces to redress their own prices. I would even consider a higher increase, maybe £5-7, if it meant more examiners, shorter waiting times, better test centres and a better service.
The DITC would be keen for the DVSA to make some specific promises regarding this increase and what it will mean, especially in the current climate. Where will we see improvements and when. We are also keen to hear from NASP, its constitute associations (ADINJC, DIA, & MSA) and other bodies.
“We expect that the wearing of face coverings will no longer be legally required in most places in England from July 19th, subject to confirmation on July 12th. The legal requirement to wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and in other enclosed public spaces will end. However official advice will say face coverings should still be worn, as a voluntary measure. The Prime Minister has said it will be a matter of personal responsibility.
The legal need to wear a face covering in certain places will remain, for the time being, in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Scottish government has said it could keep some basic measures in place, including wearing masks at its next review due in August.
England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance say they will continue to wear face coverings:
• indoors, in any situation which is crowded, or where people are close together
• if asked to by any "competent authority"
• if someone else was uncomfortable, as a "common courtesy"
Businesses have been considering what they will do and no doubt there will be variations between businesses. It is likely that some businesses could refuse you service, or the right to travel without a face covering.
Firms decide their own health and safety measures and insisting on a face covering could be a reasonable rule, says Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. If you took your mask off once inside a building or train, for example, staff would have the right to ask you to leave. If you are currently exempt from wearing a mask companies will probably have to continue to honour that exemption.
Why is continuing to wear a face covering sensible after 19th July in our industry?
• Evidence suggests transmission is mostly happening in indoor spaces where people are in close proximity.
• Face coverings worn over the nose and mouth reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking.
• The main purpose is to protect others from Covid, rather than yourself. If everyone wears one, the risks drop for all.
• Masks can also help reduce virus spread from people who may be contagious but have no symptoms.
• Cutting virus transmission is important because many people are still not yet fully vaccinated.
• Some new virus variants appear more transmissible than earlier Covid strains.
NASP considers personal responsibility will mean refreshed risk assessments for ourselves on an individual basis and similarly for each individual client.
NASP recommends that:
• You consider still wearing a face covering after July 19th for yourself and your clients.
• You continue to sanitise the car as we have been doing during Covid and to continue to use hand sanitiser
Consider the following for each client and for yourself:
• Underlying health conditions and that of close family
• Any travel abroad or to amber and red listed countries (check these regularly as they will change)
• Level of vaccination
• Any contact with someone who tests positive or is symptomatic
DVSA have not issued any guidelines at the time of publishing this, we will update you of any changes as soon as we hear from the DVSA.
The world we live in is constantly evolving. Sadly the driving instructor industry doesn’t always embrace and reflect this. Be it generational differences or personal understanding, being open and accepting to individuals is part of running a customer-facing business, and this has never been more important.
The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective (The DITC) stands for change and unity both inside and outside the driver training sector. Whether it is bringing together businesses, individuals or innovation we want to encourage and enable leaps forward in how our industry is represented and referred to by those that engage with it on every level.
It is with this in mind that we are launching two opportunities for Approved Driving Instructors (ADI), Potential Driving Instructors (PDI), and industry businesses to demonstrate their understanding and support. We hope this will be the first of many such opportunities we can bring to the sector.
The Queer Box – Understanding identity
We are introducing this course to the industry as a positive step to help trainers understand how other people identify and how you can acknowledge and respect this inside of your business. It is a very non-judgmental course and provides true insight into the LGBTQ+ community and its diverse nature. It allows you to see how you can be inclusive, rather than binary and exclusive as the world tends to be by default. The beauty of this course is that as a stand-alone video-based product you can undertake it in your own time and implement the understanding in your own way. Being an LGBTQ+ Ally isn’t necessary about painting your car in rainbow colours, it is far more about making your customers feel accepted, welcome and recognised.
On completion of the course you are provided with an ‘Officially LGBTQ+ Inclusive’ digital badge to be used on your social media and web presence.
Non-Members – £49
DITC Members – £29 via the DITC Members Hub
Introducing DITCs LGBTQ+ Friendly badge
As part of our range of identifying badges being released over the next 6 months (including Schools, Associations, Services, and more) we are launching a badge recognising inclusivity. This badge is not exclusive to members, but for industry-wide use. It is a symbol to show that you are an Ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
We welcome you to join with them and show the driver and rider training sector to be one of inclusivity and positive engagement for all.
Additionally, we are highlighting the badge to various LGBTQ+ groups across the UK to get maximum awareness, allowing the wider community to benefit from finding instructors that are aware that we do not all fit inside a single box.
Are you an Ally?
If you would like to access the digital badge for free, you can do so here. We ask any Schools or Trainers that do so strongly consider investing in The Queer Box course above to maximise their understanding and engagement, as well as encouraging any instructors you may have to do the same. If you would like to arrange any additional training or engagement you can contact the DITC and we will do what we can to point you to those best suited to help.
.....at least we know we are all facing similar demands!
Personally, it isn't the demand that is challenging. It is the lack of light at the end of the tunnel; and the lack of movement from the DVSA.
Changes to the theory test booking system sound like reduced rather than increased availability. Feet on the ground at test centres (in our area at least) seem to be at an all-time low. Test booking seems to be near-impossible!
The DITC has written to NASP, via the current Chair Peter Harvey, MSA, to ask what they are doing to challenge the DVSA and what their take is on the current situation. We will share any replies. For now, it is left to instructors to weather the storm, manage expectations and maintain a balance.
We look forward with interest to the promise of an update from Loveday Ryder, DVSA, and more importantly signs of action from DVSA recruitment and training.
Regarding the DITC, we are working hard to unite various areas and our ADI & website expert Neil from SitePage is busy restructuring the site, theDITC.co.uk, to make it easy for you to access the information when you need it. There will be the first of our own podcast articles posted in the next 24 hours to enable you to keep in touch, and we continue to work with Terry Cook from The Instructor Podcast to deliver updates.
If you are finding things difficult or just need a chat, either contact us directly at the DITC, or check out the excellent support channels from ADINJC, DIA and MSA who always have people willing to listen and help.
The Driving Instructor sector is unusually Facebook centred in its networking structure. Not all ADIs are on the social media platform by any means, but a large amount of ADI networking is on Facebook. Other industries favour LinkedIn or dedicated networking tools, but ADIs seem particularly drawn to Zuckerberg's machine. A machine that we know trades on personal data and trends to make a profit by targeted advertising. We have all seen it, one minute you are chatting to your pupil about the importance of personal hygiene. The next minute Facebook is suffering the Lynx effect or you are being told how to move with confidence! This isn't a coincidence but app tracking.
It isn't only big brands that are selling to you. Many instructors rely (in quieter times) on Facebook advertising for their marketing and pupil flow. Even those that don't pay will ensure they have a business page and use it for reviews and testimonials, as well as picking up leads from local community groups.
This week sees Apple releasing its latest update (14.5) to its iOS 14, which brings with it new features including: Unlocking while using a mask using an Apple Watch Airtags Accident and Hazard reporting on Apple Maps ETA sending from Apple Maps New Emojis Announcing incoming phone calls Ladies with beards...
Plus, the feature that is getting the most media attention 'Opt-in App Tracking'. This allows the user to refuse requests by default for an app or site to watch the activity across other apps and websites. It won't stop adverts, but it will result in a much more generic advert to be shown. The issue is that people are often inherently lazy and just click 'Allow'.
Why does this matter? Firstly, it reduces Facebooks earning potential. This could result in them trying to recoup these losses in other areas. Facebook is currently warning that such a restriction could result in charging for access. (You have to wonder if that might improve the quality of posts and responses if it became pay per post!) Secondly, It reduces the opportunity for companies - including small businesses like ours - to reach their targetted market.
Is it likely to cause a paradigm shift in online marketing and Facebook itself? No, I don't think so. However, it could result in knock-on changes that directly affect the ADI sector and ADI businesses. It is reliance on external platforms like Facebook and an absence of our own industry base that The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective has been formed to protect against.
I would like to make a public apology, and in doing so maybe stop you from making the same mistake…
While I still feel somewhat like instructors are being lined up as the first line of scapegoats in a thankless and impossible fight against post-COVID test waiting lists, that we are singlehandedly facing the brunt of unhappy pupils and parents who are at best unable to get a test and at worse have to retake the theory test after certificates have expired. This apparent finger-pointing started with the statement in lockdown that ADIs collectively can’t judge test readiness, despite the practical pass-rate being similar to other countries whatever the system. In spite of this, I have to admit that in the following case I was wrong.
I, like so many of my colleagues, received a DVSA broadcast referring to ‘The top 10 reasons people fail their driving test’. I am well know for my non-test focussed beliefs when it comes to driver training. I regularly point out the difference between DVSA symptomatic assessment (The DL25 faults) and solution-based causation fixing (why was there a fault) that myself and my ADI colleagues offer. When I saw the email I rolled my eyes, preempting the increase in focus on this top 10 list as gospel as well as the problems created by it. Like those of the mythical ‘hill starts’ that breathing life into them cause people to struggle and potentially fail. Equally, I try to be goals focused wherever possible. Identifying outcomes and opportunities for learning to occur over fault identification and focus.
I mustered the strength to click the link and bolstered myself against the frustration I was going to feel.
“Top 10 reasons for failing the driving test in Great Britain”
You can use this guide with your driving instructor and supervising driver to practise these skills. You can also: ask your driving instructor to keep a record of your driving lessons so you know how well your skills have developed in important areas keep a record of the private driving practice you do with family or friends, so you can show it to your driving instructor
If you regularly make any of the mistakes explained in this guide during your driving lessons, you’re not ready to take and pass your driving test.
……. Ok, that looks positive…. I read on…
Not making effective observations at junctions You must: make effective observations before moving into a new road make sure it is safe before proceeding
Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Junctions - Observations’ fault on your driving test result.
Failing to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle When you turn either left or right from a minor road, you make observations but fail to judge the speed of the approaching vehicle. You move off, forcing the vehicle to slow significantly.
Entering a roundabout with a vehicle approaching from the right When you approach a roundabout, there’s a vehicle approaching from the right. You still enter the roundabout, causing the vehicle approaching to slow down.
Making no effective observations at all When you emerge from a junction, you make no effective observations at all. This causes: a vehicle approaching from either the left or right to do an emergency stop to avoid hitting you the driving examiner using the dual controls to brake
Making no observations when joining a dual carriageway from a slip road When you’re on a slip road to join a dual carriageway, you enter the dual carriageway without making any observations, or you do not give way to the traffic on the main carriageway.
Going straight ahead at a crossroads When you approach a crossroads, you do not recognise that it’s a junction. You emerge and cross the crossroads without making any observations to the right or left.
Looking too late When you emerge from a junction, you look too late (either left or right) for the observations to be effective, as you’re already partly into the next road.
Repeatedly not looking left when turning left Throughout the test, when you turn left from a minor road into a busier road, you do not make any effective observations to the left. This means you’re unaware of any parked vehicles, obstructions or other possible hazards.
What more can we ask in such an article? Food for positive lesson content and focus. Tools to help the pupils identify their own readiness and written in reasonably clear English. Or am I missing something? If I am PLEASE comment and let us know.
When faced with constant threats for a prolonged period of time, as we have been during COVID, it is common for people to develop hypervigilance and respond instinctively to perceived threats. Ironically this perceived issue is one that affects candidates on the test! So it is easy to start making negative choices. We hope that rather than a time of threat and reactivity, we can help you in being proactive and adaptive.
Admittedly ‘The top 10 real reasons’ didn’t address:
For listening to an unqualified individual's bad advice.
Experiencing a negative response to external pressures including financial, time, peer pressure, personal pressures or examiners attitude.
The driving attitudes of other road users, particularly towards learner drivers.
Being told that they failed for the symptomatic fault recorded by the DVSA and not the causal fault that actually occurred.
Self-belief, confidence and understanding.
Having received poor habit-forming training that cannot be fixed in a couple of hours before the test.
but they have provided some very useful diagnostic tools to support your position. Meaning that ‘Because I say so’ isn’t the final line, the DVSA says so too.
Chris Bensted The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective https://theditc.co.uk
On the day that sees Instructors able to return to teaching, James May is speaking out about the lack of support for Learners who’s theory tests have expired. He is backing the move to extend theory certificates as they have with MOT certificates.
Marmalade Insurance have been supporting their customers by funding their first retake but there has been little support for those needing to return to study. James has reduced the cost of his ‘The Theory Test by James May’ App during April in order to help those suffering expired certificates and the need to retake the test. His app covers all the aspects of the test in engaging and bite sized pieces.
Chris Bensted, Specialist Theory Trainer for Theory Test Explained, has reviewed the app. “It’s very James May and surprisingly good! It sets a timescale, targets learning areas using algorithms and it’s engaging. They have almost made the theory interesting! At Theory Test Explained we offer 1:1 teaching for people needing support or to be taught, but for those that can self-study successfully this is a great tool. It definitely goes on the recommended apps list.”
The DITC have been working closely with the James May Theory Test App to get Driving Instructors (ADIs and PDIs) a free copy to trial and show their pupils. Visit jamesmaytheorytest.com to request yours.
It’s been a while! Many instructors are returning to work tomorrow (Monday 12th), so we thought a quick list might be helpful:
Insurance - A lot of people downgraded or changed their insurance during lockdown. If you were one of them, remember to contact the insurer. Even if you weren’t, a quick check on the MIB website might be a good idea in case there are any issues.
MOT and Tax - Again, worth an online check to make sure you are covered.
Water - Especially when wearing masks and talking lots, hydration is important to mental and physical health.
Pupil licence check including online check - It’s been a while, who knows what some have been up to! I tried to book a theory this week and found a licence had been revoked!
Eyesight - Yours and theirs. As much as anything you don’t want them failing before they start!
Toilets - After all that water, have you figured out what the current toilet options are. Check out the ‘Flush’ app for the latest.
**Pupil update - In challenging times communication is key. Like the Standards Check Risk Management make sure your pupil knows their responsibilities and yours, and how you will ensure a successful outcome together.
POWDER/FLOWERY or VOLTS/T-CLOCK for our bikers - Check your fluids, tyres, and wipers. Cars don’t like being sat around!
Brake check - BOTH SETS - While we are sure you will check your driver brakes, make sure you test your dual controls on or before that first lesson.
When is a window not a window? When it’s ajar! Cleaning is key and ventilation is important. Have lots of layers in the car and leave yourself time to shine!
Have we missed something? Feel free to pop it in the comments!
Eggs have always symbolised birth and rebirth. From 'what came first' to escaping from a shell they carry much symbolism and inspired wisdom. Whatever your culture, faith or viewpoint you can probably draw on them for guidance in some way.
With so many differences and unsurities thrust upon us over the last year, many have looked to reinvent, relaunch and rediscover aspects of their lives and businesses. As many of you know I love innovation and challenging norms. I always try to ask 'Why?' or 'Why not?' when others do as they have been told, so I am inspired by those that have taken the opportunity to develop themselves, others or projects that have been made available to them.
With the opportunity to return to normality (admittedly still inside the 'new normal') I would like to reach out and ask you not to. We have all taken stock, challenged and rediscovered things since the beginning of 2020. Hold onto them.
Success requires many things, consider how you can improve your chances:
1. Be proactive - Take control of your own circle of influence, and don't get swamped by your circle of concern.
2. Begin with the end in mind - What do you want? Now make a clear plan how to achieve it.
3. First things first - What is important? What is Urgent? (Discover the Eisenhower Matrix) Important and Urgent things first.
4. Think win-win - It isn't about being nice, it is about achieving success.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood - You cannot truly influence something until you have discovered what it is.
6. Synergise - Combine your skills so as to achieve goals that no one could have done alone.
7. Sharpen the Saw - Balance and renew your resources. Sustainable results come from a sustained source.
(Following the guidance of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People')
The DITC is focussed on what we can control. While the DVSA do an important job and we happily work with them, we are unable to influence them. They are in our circle of concern but we cannot look to them for our change. We have a clear goal to benefit ADIs and PDIs by creating a 'meta industry' platform that represents all the benefits and supports all the challenges. Instructors have been getting by, we are not yet in recovery, so we have focussed on helping them do so. Next we will be focussed on developing a strong base to provide the resources that they need to grow. By working together we will be stronger and everyone (businesses, government and individuals) will all benefit. We have studied the industry for over a decade and learnt from those that have been doing it for far longer. We have asked questions and taken time to understand the answers. By identifying expert resources and asking them to engage with us for mutual benefit we will grow together. We have been given an opportunity to rebalance and renew not just the structure of the industry but the approach of those inside it.
With our members we will all benefit, grow and achieve. If you have something to offer, we are listening, and if you have a need, we will help support it. Please get in touch.
Happy Easter from Chris and Ian at the Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective.
I except you have seen the letter from ‘new’ DVSA CEO Loveday Rider (Copied below). It's not often a CEO arrives in your brain with their own theme song - Lovely Day by Bill Withers - or at least she has in mine! Sadly I think my ironic humour is at work.
It was good that she acknowledged our unhappiness at the DVSAs communication, admittedly there was no acknowledgement that they feel the same and that they will make efforts to effectively communicate with us in the future. I am aware of the DVSAs position inside the machine and acknowledge it isn’t as simple as many of the expert commentators would have us believe. We welcome the opportunity to engage with the DVSA plans, though it is a strongly held foundation of the DITC that we should focus on the business of driver education and leave minimum standards to the DVSA. We, therefore, encourage everyone to ensure they have a recognised channel to engage with this communication should it be offered. The DVSA are very vocal about NASP (ADINJC, DIA & MSA) being the chosen channel, so therefore the best place to look.
The Loveday’s reference to 420,000 car tests in the backlog is either selective or shortsighted as that is just the pointed end of a growing backlog that we are managing before they reach the test. As you will read, ADIs are being rallied to provide a supportive front line to protect the testing system again ill-prepared candidates. This comes after the public statement that we are incapable of making this judgement, referencing the sub-50% pass rate. Interestingly Australia has a totally different system of training and testing, yet achieves an almost identical pass rate.
We have been told consistently that it is the candidate's test; as instructors, we are supplementary to it. Yet this most recent email speaks of “Encouraging learners to pass first time” and asks for our support. What part of the ‘Be ready to pass’ campaign will support the role of ADIs in this process? We genuinely hope to be pleasantly surprised and that Loveday and her team will embrace the opportunity to preach the support of qualified instructors. We will wait to see how this pans out.
Hoping this finds you safe and well
Chris Chris Bensted The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective theditc.co.uk
I’m Loveday Ryder, and I became the Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in January 2021.
Before I tell you a bit more about myself, I wanted to give you an update.
I’m pleased we were able to share the proposed restart dates for services in England and Wales. You can see these dates on GOV.UK.
We want to give you as much information as we can, as soon as we can, so we can help you plan to reopen your businesses and start teaching again.
We could not have done this without support and input from the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP). They gave us valuable feedback on the time needed between lessons and tests restarting.
Based on this, we introduced a 10-day gap before tests restart to help make sure learners whose lessons and driving practice were disrupted by the pandemic have the opportunity to prepare for their test.
In Scotland, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced details of the updated Strategic Framework for COVID-19 on 16 March. This included a timetable of when restrictions can start to be lifted in Scotland.
As part of this the First Minister of Scotland confirmed driving lessons could potentially restart on 26 April. We are working closely with the Scottish Government to agree restart dates for our services and will share these dates as soon as we can.
I now want to tell you a little bit about me, my background and career, to reflect on the impact of the pandemic on the driver training industry and update you on how we’ve learned throughout the situation and how that feeds into our recovery plans.
About me I’m a Civil Engineer by background, so I’ve spent time designing and building roads in the past.
Most recently, I was the Chief Executive of an organisation providing specialist digital technology services to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). I’m really delighted to be moving up in scale again, joining DVSA.
Our mission of helping everyone stay safe on Britain’s roads is so important. I’m looking forward to spending the coming months learning about the industry and working with you and DVSA colleagues to help recover our services and rebuild and strengthen our relationships with you and the rest of our customers.
Impact of the pandemic on the driver training industry The last 12 months have been extremely hard for everyone. And I know many of you, your families and the driving instructor community have been hit particularly hard. Some of you may have lost colleagues, be facing financial hardship or feeling isolated.
In DVSA, we’ve also lost colleagues. So it’s vital we make sure that the measures we put in place to restart testing will help keep you, your pupils and our examiners safe.
I want you to know we appreciate how difficult the past 12 months have been for you and your pupils. We’re incredibly aware of how the pandemic has impacted your businesses, lessons and pupils’ tests.
We know how frustrated and disappointed your pupils feel.
Our communications We know many of you felt unhappy with the way we have communicated with you during the pandemic.
Despite our best efforts it has not always been possible to engage and communicate with you in the way we would want to. So, as part of our restart and recovery plan, we want to work with you to try and improve this. We’ll do everything in our power to share clear information with you, as soon as we can, to keep you up-to-date on anything that will affect you, your businesses and your pupils.
I’m also really keen that you have the opportunity to: • give feedback on our plans • get involved in conversations with us • help us develop and shape our recovery plan and our future products and services.
We will work with NASP and share more information on how you can get involved at a later date.
Recovery plan There are currently 420,000 car tests in the backlog and the national average waiting time for a driving test is 17 weeks. We know this will pose challenges for everyone in the coming weeks. We’ll do all we can to reduce the backlog safely and as quickly as possible to help the driver training industry recover. We plan to do this by testing as many people as we can, as soon as we can.
To help us do this, we’ve already run a successful recruitment campaign for driving examiners. We received over 5,000 applications and are now in the process of reviewing these applications and setting up interviews. But this is only one of the actions we are taking to reduce the backlog. We’ve started to share our outline plans with NASP to get their feedback and views. We’ll share these plans with you as soon as we can.
Encouraging learners to pass first time We also planning to run a campaign to encourage learners to take their test only when they are confident they can pass. This will help them to avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the backlog of tests. You can help us by identifying your pupils who are ready for their test and those who need more support and practice. I hope you will support our efforts and work with us to make this campaign a success. We will share more information with you about the campaign after we’ve been able to confirm the restart dates in England, Scotland and Wales.
Keeping you updated There are challenging times ahead for all of us. By working together, we can help to reduce the backlog, help your industry recover and help people stay safe on Britain’s roads. We’ll share your feedback on our full recovery plan with you as soon as we’re able to.
I’ll write to you again after we’ve been able to confirm the restart dates in England, Scotland and Wales. To give you more information to help you and pupils prepare for the restart of lessons and tests.
I also urge you to keep up to date with NASP website at https://n-a-s-p.co.uk/. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
I hope that you, your family and your friends remain safe and well.
Loveday Ryder Chief Executive Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency”
Some of you may have seen Bob Morton's Zoom/Facebook - 'Franchises - The work of Satan, or your friend in the business?' If you didn't catch it you can watch it here on YouTube It was a pleasure to be on the panel and I think it raised some interesting takes on franchising, both good and bad.
What I would just like to reflect on is expressed best for me by Hugh Grant in the film 'About a Boy'. "No man is an island" to which he replies “I am an island. I am ****** Ibiza!”. Yet the films journey teaches him that we all need a support structure. People to care and people to care about.
We know this industry can be challenging and isolating, but you can engage with, grow and offer levels of support which will then be there when needed. This can exist on many levels, below I mention a few.
Business support - This can be a traditional or non-traditional franchise, an informal partnership, or an office service. These provide reduction in jobs and an increase in support.
A partnership - If you are a manual instructor your advertising efforts, reputation and presence will attract automatic enquiries. As the same is true vice-versa. Think of the saving in this investment if you have a trusted channel to deliver that work to, and the benefits you will receive in return. This may be bigger than just the two instructors with a WhatsApp or Facebook network. The risk of growth is that you may not know the standards or receive the same accountability. Even islands develop supply chains!
A coffee date - Business aside having a similar minded, or not, person to chat with and put the world to rights is equally important. Whatever the rest of the Covid experience has to throw at us it is important to talk.
It’s the end of the week! (I know this as it’s spelling & arithmetic tests on home learning...) 1 more week and the schools go back, the future of which is likely to dictate ADIs return.
Harry (10) has been talking to me about how he feels about going back to his last year in Primary School. It's a mixture of excitement, relief and anxiousness. I feel the same about the school run, and I'm hearing the same from colleagues about the return to the road.
I know some of us will be thinking "Just get on with it." but even if you are not feeling concerned, your pupils or their parents may be. It is perfectly reasonable to feel this way and there are lots of measures that we can put in place to help deal with this.
Plan your days - Decide what you are willing to do and stick to it. We will be feeling the demands of customers looking for lessons and asking for our help.
Be strong - Contrary to the black and white views of the DVSA we know that it isn't as easy to say "You are not ready" when faced with 6-month waiting lists and unrealistic expectations. Good communication and a 'road map' of how things are likely to be will help manage your pupils' expectations.
Talk to someone - I know there are plenty of ADIs willing to listen, and I get lots of calls and messages myself. It is a solitary role and now more than ever we need to keep on top of our mental health.
Finally - Check which toilets are open!
We look forward to hearing some concrete details from the DVSA next week. Have a great weekend.
We would like to express the thanks of all ADIs to David Linden MP for raising the issues of the driving theory test in parliament today. It was nice to hear the position of the driver training industry being recognised in the house.
Sadly this was rejected in full by Rachel Maclean MP, and the DVSA, who claimed an understanding of the situation that was sadly not portrayed by her performance. The rejection included both the extension of theory certificates, and the suggestion of free retesting.
Mr Linden also challenged the fact that while learners are not deemed able to retain the knowledge that got them through the theory test, the DVSA feel the examiners are able to retain this same knowledge required to do their job without retesting - Bravo Mr Linden.
DVSA Tribunals are available for review. It is important to note that amongst them are ADIs appealing their removals for:
Posting videos of tests
Not attending or blatantly avoiding Standards Checks (This includes not having updated their contact address on DVSA Gateway - Changing your Driving Licence address isn't enough)
Fit and Proper is a very broad category and has never been well defined. It is therefore at the discretion of the Registrar and her team to decide. Having supported a number of people through the appeals process we have seen the stress they face. Please make efforts to stay on the right side of the regulations.
Please be aware that these notes include both upheld and overruled, plus those of any individuals that may have been involved
At this difficult time that sees many of our members and colleagues facing an uncertain start to 2021 we are excited to bring you a little positive news.
Together we have been awarded the GoRoadie Community of the Year award 2020. Recognising the support and dedication provided by the DITC during a challenging time. Uniting ADIs and PDIs in a vision that, we believe, will be able to vastly improve our futures. This is our award as without your support and positivity we would not have been able to achieve so much in such a short period of time. We are far from our goal of being the communication and information hub for the driver training sector, but we are working tirelessly behind the seasons to directly help each and every ADI through 2021 and the years to come.
To find out more about the GoRoadie awards and why we have been chosen, as well as the other Winner and Commended individuals, Visit the GoRoadie Awards
We look forward to reclaiming our industry in 2021 and building a better future together.
NASP Webinar with DVSA following the announcement that tests will recommence.
Do you think NASP (DVSAs chosen spokespersons fir the industry) spoke up for the ADI community?
Source: NASP Webinar (Driving Instructors Association/The Approved Driving Instructors National Joint Council - ADINJC)
Post-lockdown Q&A with DVSA
DVSA and NASP have recorded a Q&A to answer the most commonly asked questions around driver and rider training and testing in the new three-tiered system.
“We grill them on why communications came out so late for the return to training and testing, was it really sensible to open up slots on 2nd December (leaving people little time to take advantage of them), what will happen with ADI assessments, will Examiners be vaccinated and why aren't theory test certs being extended?”
It has been announced that Gareth Llewelyn’s replacement as Chief Executive of the DVSA is Loveday Ryder, 51. She will be starting her new role on 1 January 2021 but who is she and where has she come from?
According to the gov.uk, Loveday Ryder has spent nearly 3 years as the CEO of BPDTS, the governments not for profit which was set up to provide specialist digital technology services to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Prior to this she served for 12 years in several senior roles in the Ministry for Justice focused on organisation design, change management and programme delivery.
Loveday Ryder says “I want to help build on the successes already achieved through DVSA’s 5-year strategy. DVSA will continue to change, improve and modernise services for customers, embrace smarter ways of working and make the most of new technology while making sure road safety remains at the heart of everything we do. I’m looking forward to supporting DVSA colleagues in the vital work they do to help achieve the vision we all share.”
The DITC phone hasn’t stopped today and being based on the London/Kent border we have seen a switch, with Kent becoming Tier 3 and London Tier 2. This is causing added confusion and concern, with most looking longingly toward NASP and the DVSA for guidance.
While we are still waiting to see if DVSA moves to training commencing on the 2nd, we know that we are faced with a 4-Tier system (with Tier 4 being the lockdown level that we are exiting). Having had first-hand experience of Tier 2 & Tier 3 pre-lockdown 2 we are going to review the situation based on what was allowed and assume this stands until we are told otherwise.
The previous situation (between lockdowns 1 and 2) in Tier 2 AND Tier 3 was that training and testing were taking place. You were able to cross borders between Tier 2 & Tier 3 for training, and all other Hands, Face, Space guidance should have been implemented in line with your COVID risk assessments (Tools are still available on the ADINJC website for anyone that needs them).
The interesting question will be test centres like that at Herne Bay, Kent, which sits in between the hot spots of Swale and Thanet. Will DVSA and examiners be willing to continue operating, and if not does that just displace candidates to surrounding centres?
We, like the rest of the industry, continue to wait for word from NASP and DVSA. Sadly the likes of the hairdressing industry received a prompt response over 2nd/3rd confusion and can plan their return to work on Wednesday (2nd) while we still await clarification.
Welcome to the first ‘Rear View’ update from The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective
This is your shortcut to the headline news brought to you by theditc.co.uk. As ADIs we know that despite being interested and wanting to read that article in the latest magazine, time is precious and the test centre waiting room table isn’t currently in reach! We won’t delay you further…
At the time of writing there were local restrictions in: Bolton, Caerphilly, Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire Unfortunately there does not appear to be a public list of which centres are facing restriction. We have asked NASP and DVSA if this is being addressed
The ADI NJC have raised the issue of instructors having access to toilet facilities and waiting rooms with the HSE. ADIs are classed as ‘Visiting Workers’. The DVSA response was “DVSA’s priority is to stop the spread of COVID-19. Following engagement with driving instructors we made toilet and handwashing facilities available for any candidate, instructor or accompanying driver if requested. DVSA is currently in discussion with HSE about the use of waiting rooms for driving instructors.”
Instructor Challenges Test bookings - With limited numbers registered for the Online Booking System there is no option but for you or your pupil to sit in the queue. The changes on 14th September will hopefully ease this.
Tests We are hearing of tests refused due to inadequate mask use and ‘dirty’ (not visibly cleaned) vehicles. Please make extra efforts not so your pupils are not disappointed and you are not out of pocket.
Instructors are still facing challenges in adverse weather conditions. If you wish to raise this or other issues we recommend contacting your chosen national association and/or N.A.S.P. to raise it or we are happy to raise it for you (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scotland Test booking - 7th September Tests from - 14th September On-hold test from lockdown will have an early invitation. Scotland will only be booking 6 weeks ahead.
Podcasts Here are some Podcasts you may not have discovered for those gaps between lessons:
ADINJC Toolbox - If you haven’t explored this yet, it is well worth a look! Free to all via the website. The DIA members can access the DIA Toolbox via the Academy
The DITC ADI and PDI members qualify for the TOTUM student card (Formerly NUS Extra). Visit the DITC hub with a picture of your Pink or Green Badge, or Part 1 Certificate if Pre-badge & click the TOTUM link on the menu.
To Qualify To qualify you need to be studying or teaching for 3 hours per week.
IMPORTANT - The TOTUM offer ‘3 years for price of 2' ends at the end of September! So sign up now!
The card not only gets you access to the TOTUM deals, but also student rates at any service or place that you use restaurants, gyms, shops, etc.
The Collective’s goal is to unite instructors. We are focussed on networking and connectivity between PDIs, ADIs, Businesses, Services and those looking to join the industry. We are only as strong as our membership but have already developed benefits and value for our members. If you would like to subscribe to our membership (Just £6 a month) visit theditc.co.uk
The DITC have clarified the following with the DVSA:
There is no access to the Public Booking System or Online Booking System(OBS) between release dates (currently 26th and 1st).
There will not be 'cancellation' or 'short notice slots'.
No-shows are being automatically refunded as candidates are not able to inform the DVSA due to demand on the phones, and examiners are generally not able to access the phones, or are out testing.
Those who were unsuccessful this week will need to try again when the system reopens. They will NOT return to their previous position in the queue (I know some were hoping their places were held)
The OBS is closed to prevent the minority taking the slots from the majority as it is not possible to 'hide' or prevent booking of the slots if open.
OBS users will be able to switch/rename test slots, but only on the days that booking is open.
Only 1700 ADIs use the OBS, and new users cannot register at this time.
A knock-on affect is that Motorcycle and Vocational tests are also unable to access the OBS, so they are trying to resolve this.
It is worth noting that we are still in a 'coping' not 'recovering' phase - The only solution to the situation is by increasing capacity. The DVSA are very aware of this and are implementing strategies and in talks on how to improve this capacity. (This in our words, not DVSAs, but true to our understanding of what we have been told.)
The DITC are excited to introduce Patterson Law, our specialist road traffic lawyers.
Patterson Law are the largest specialist Road Traffic Defence Law Firm in England and Wales. They will be working with us to provide accurate legal perspective on some commonly faced issues and misconceptions.
DITC members and their clients who encounter traffic related legal issues are able to contact them (Quoting the reference in the DITC Members hub) and receive a free consultation. If legal action is needed they work on a fixed fee basis (no hourly billable rates) so you will know the costs in advance, AND Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective Members (and their pupils) will receive 10% discount on these services.
With instructors nationwide reassessing their prices and viability, as well as trying to recover from Lockdown and increased COVID costs Chris Bensted ADI draws on his previous live in retail to help you look at what, why, and how you are charging your clients.
The DITC’s ALERT Guidance - designed for you to print and laminate for use in the car. To explain the measures you are taking to keep your pupils safe. Giving them the confidence and security that you are doing what you can in difficult times.