Jaimmie Sheriff Chairman, Edinburgh & Lothians Driving Instructors Association← More instructor interviews
Morning Jaimmie, let's start with getting to know you a bit and how you got started in the driver training industry.
My grandfather was a driving instructor and when I was in the car he would always be asking me about every road sign as we’d go pass. When I turned 17 I went in to the hospitality industry, being based in Edinburgh city centre I had no need for a car. I always thought I would end up as a driving instructor but thought it would be later in life.
I finally learned to drive when I turned 30. A few years later my partner who had previously been a driving instructor in Poland and I started a Family. I was still working 75 hour weeks as a Hospitality Manager which is horrendous when you have a young family. We decided to transfer her Instructor license to the UK and in a stroke of good fortune she was offered a franchise with a local driving school who happened to be looking for a female polish instructor. I mentioned that I was looking to change my career to spend more time with my family so they passed me on to a local trainer.
Just so happens the trainer I went with was Gavin Brownlie (one of the founding members of NASP). He was very quick to start talking about local associations and the support you get from them and the bigger national associations.
So as a PDI I became a member of ELDIA, they were very welcoming. I was great to be able to talk to what is essentially a colleague. I felt I needed this, I came from a job that has loads of social aspects to it, and as we know being an ADI can be a very isolating job. So joining the association takes care of that requirement.
At my first AGM I was encouraged me to become social secretary - I did that for 2 years, I was vice chairman for a year and now I’ve been in the chair for over 2 years now.
What changes have you made since COVID-19 and how has ELDIA helped out?
So in January 2020, myself and the committee were planning a big year, with a Podcast and tons of new features for the association. Unfortunately Coronavirus came along and put a hold on many of the ideas that we had. We have an association group chat over messenger, we defaulted back to that to keep communication open. We did have a couple of Zoom meetings, these were with local test centre managers preparing for when the centres reopened briefly.
Hopefully we will babe able to get things back to normal in 2021.
So, what else does ELDIA do then, in normal times?
We have spent a lot of time on our website including video’s of problem areas on test routes that our instructors can share with pupils, we also have a text messaging service for sharing any local road issues.
We have bi-annual social events, That being our Christmas and summer nights out. We always supply hot food at our meetings as instructors quite often are attending straight from lessons and may not have had the chance to get dinner - by doing this they are more likely to attend.
At our meetings we always have a guest speaker in the past these has been representatives from the DVSA, MSA, Traffic Police , Autistic Society, eye sight specialists, accountants the list goes on. We have also arranged outings to the police college, fire station and Simulator assessment centres. We also try to arrange an annual training course as it can be hard to find good quality courses north of the border - we try and do as much as we can.
“ A lot of new members are engaging because of our social media, fresh ideas and new website. We even now have a social media manager.
Are you involved with any of the national associations?
Yeah absolutely, we work with ADINJC and Driving Instructors Scottish Council (DISC).
What changes have you made since becoming chairperson?
The first thing was on the tech side. We introduced a new website, Updated all the old contact details that were out of date.
We surveyed all our members to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they want to see more of and if they have any fresh new ideas.
Introducing hot meals during our meetings.
We focussed on getting new members in. Our last AGM was our highest attended meeting we have had in years. We got more than 30 new members this happened to coincide with the launch of the website and a social media push.
We also have a social media policy of only sharing verified facts. There are too many instructor pages with unverified rumours giving out bad advice.
Since becoming the Chairperson of ELDIA, I have tried to keep things focused on a local level. If there is news from the national associations we share that but we try to keep the meetings locally focussed.
What’s the future of ELDIA?
I’d love to see us return to normality. I want to see the Podcast idea out there as it’s a little bit different from those out there already.
I want to see our members in person again, a lot of our members have struggled with the isolation, so seeing them in person would be great.
What’s your thoughts on how the industry will run for the next 2 or three years?
Firstly, due to corona virus a lot of instructors have left the profession, so there will be a surge of new instructors being trained over the next few years.
Instructors should expect ridiculously high demand. There are going to be challenges with Theory Tests going forward with the huge backlog too.
The DVSA has a new Chief Exec who has a technology background, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the next few years.
I was the first person in Scotland to start teaching in an electric car, which was a massive gamble. Literally at the time we were going to go solo, I must have test drove 20 cars, I saw the BMW i3 and thought I would take it for a test drive it but I’m not buying it. I drove it and was like “Oh my god. This is the way driving is going to be in the future. This is it.” So I took the gamble.
It’s definitely going that way , in 10 years we will all be teaching in electric cars.
“ Instructors should expect ridiculously high demand. There are doing to be challenges with Theory Tests going forward with the huge backlog too.
What’s the future for yourself? Where are you taking your driving school?
I am looking at setting up my own driving school franchise focussed around my own values. Help PDIs get started, introduce them to associations, and get them set right up. If they want to stick around and take pupils great and if they want to go out and prove themselves with their own franchise - I’ll help them do that too, from paperwork to websites.
Final question, What is your advice for ADIs and PDIs for right now?
Speak to people. There is always someone there. You are far from being on your own. There are local associations. If your area doesn’t have an Association get in contact with ELDIA and we’ll help you form one.
Now, there is light at the end of the tunnel and once we are back, we will be busier than ever.
Brilliant Jaimmie, thanks so much for your time today. We will definitely catchup soon.
Jaimmie is the chairperson of Edinburgh & Lothians Driving Instructors Association and the owner of Driving Rocks School of Motoring. Please contact if you're looking to join or consider starting your own association.