I am currently working on a project that will be announced soon that will help those instructors who are keen to be at the top of their tree. While I was doing work for this it took me back to the reason, I started producing products for driving instructors alongside my own driving school. While I was training to be a driving instructor, I was told to write lesson plans. The company I was with had some rough plans, but I decided to write my own. Back then I wrote them in the Pre-Set-Test format, for those that remember them. My plans contained the main parts highlighted in red so I could easily see at a glance what I should do next. They were in simple bullet form but formed the basis of Goals, introduction, Main Points, Lesson, and the Recap. The main points I took from the Highway Code as to what SHOULD be talked about. Having passed my part three, first time I should add with a 5-5, these plans were put away and not used again for many years. I did however, use a Colourfile from the DIA. Moving on some 7 years, I started to train driving instructors. By now I had already achieved the Dip.DI, qualified teacher status and a whole host of other things. During my teacher training stage, I was audited by FENTO. Their inspector was full of praise for my lesson she observed and how the pupils were captivated, my energy and professionalism, yada yada, but she needed to see my written lesson plan for the lesson. What, I don’t need a lesson plan, I exclaimed, I have done this so many times I know it backwards. However, without a written lesson plan, I would get a deferred (not a pass). I was so angry. I spoke with my college principle who suggested I humour him and produce some structured plans for my lessons. We were to meet in a coffee shop in Exeter the following week and he said, if I am still of the same opinion, he would by me the largest cake of my choice and coffee. However, I had changed my mind, I would be buying him the cake and coffee. Needless to say, I bought the coffee and cake!
You see in re-writing these plans I realised I would often stray from the main points. I saw how I was missing important information. I went back to my source books to produce main points. As a driving instructor, I did the same exercise and realised that here too, I would stary from main points or add stuff in not so relevant. My pupils were not getting consistency. At the same time, I was teaching instructors who I saw were struggling with the whole lesson plan thing, so I produced plans for them. Now these early plans, while they had great educational content, had diagrams for learners. Designed by me, at home using PowerPoint. They were rough to say the least. The content was good and I reformed it many times using it with my trainees. Other instructor trainers saw them and asked where to get them, so I started to produce to demand and sell them. This initial planner, in its crude form was seriously helping driving instructors to pass their part three test.
The Pre-Set-Test those were the days
Back then, I was getting requests to produce similar but not Pre-Set-Test (PST) format as these were. Well, I was asked to include roundabouts and other subjects. Instructors were still not moving from the PST idea. Are there still instructors out there that think every time they cover pedestrian crossings lesson you must include signals? I bet there’s a few! Or Emergency (Controlled) stop with mirrors, the oldies will know 😊. I had moved on and was working on my degree then my Masters so did not have time. I was studying coaching from outside the profession as little was coming from within the driver training profession. If an instructor asked me, I would recommend another planner with my one now put away as an historical memoire.
Later, looking at training again, I looked at the market for planners. There are some beautiful ones out there. 3D, glorious graphics, manual and automatic and electric cars, all manner of visual aids. I realised these had been produced by people who knew how to design things and quality far better than what I produced in the past. My problem was that, nothing really helped the instructor plan the lesson or/and did not really follow the DVSA learning to drive syllabus. Some of them still seem to be PST based with a few extra diagrams thrown in. I wanted something more learning centred for my instructors, something that was educationally based and followed the correct DVSA syllabus. Something for all types of learners not just visual learners and instructors. So, I redesigned my own.
Ah better graphics, ahem! and not by me
Fortunately, by now, my office manager was an expert in graphic design, having a degree in it so together we set about designing the new format. My brief to him was good graphics but not to stray from the educational content. I wanted my material to be able to help driving instructors pass the part three test or get a better Standard check grade. At the same time could help them prepare a better lesson for their pupils. And guess what, we have done this. When the reviews started pouring in, without any prompting I felt overwhelmed. My guess was I would sell a few to some discerning instructors that recognised their value but, my lord, I never realised that we would end up getting another member of staff to help with all the administration of the books. This was after the release of the totally different book containing the 31 lesson plans. Whilst the planner was good, there was little space to see the full lesson plans. I knew some trainees were struggling with putting the whole lesson together. I initially did not want to write them for instructors but in the end, wrote one and tried it and it worked. Instructors had a full lesson plan the was out of the box. A plug and play plan that they can buy, open and use.
The two books work very well together. Particularly the style of presentation used. The 31-lesson planner is designed to take out the plan you are using, a bit like my original plans when I passed my part three. You can use this with the relevant page from the planner. Both follow the DVSA standards for driving of course. The lesson planner format was deliberately designed in a loose-leaf presenter and how glad we were. Shortly after we finished it, the DVSA made some changes, and I was able to implement these changes easily. Those that had already purchased were offered a simple and tiny cost update pack to bring theirs up to date. I will stick with this format, so any future updates ensure your planners are kept up-to-date CHEAPLY.
Anyway, back to work and planning this new project. I need to take a break from the exciting work now and again, can’t have all the fun.
p.s. If you don’t already know about the books and planners, hop over to the shop on this site and have a mooch around.
Driving School Dave
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.