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.
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 (email@example.com)
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.