Driving tests have been postponed for yesterday and today and theory tests for 4 weeks.
Now, this on the face of it might seem bad but it could have been longer. Why was it only 4 weeks? It could have been 15 weeks. We know that none of these decisions are made by one person. Rather a group who consult experts. I am sure the driving examiner unions will have been present in this panel and we know how hard they fight to protect their members.
So, I think the fact that it’s just 4 weeks is a good thing. Now it might be extended but there comes a point, no matter what your viewpoint, when we realise the fall out from all this becomes too great. Tests cancelled, have to be re-booked somewhere. If we re-book all these tests and then there is an extension, it gets even more complicated. However, the situation might warrant that later.
I would look at this as a good thing, as for most learners 4 week wait for theory is going to have a minimal effect.
I have seen some talk from a few driving instructors telling other instructors they should stop work now. I think in an ideal world we would all love to stop work now. I think underneath we all know the risks, but everyone must weigh up the risks to them. We must balance them against further risks such as not being able to feed our family or pay our bills. It’s a horrible place to be and this is partly causing the distress amongst all businesses. Some businesses have already sent their staff home to work, because they can. I’m sure many driving instructors have also stopped work, because they can. Or they must weigh up the risks to them because of Maybe personal health issues or risks to other vulnerable people. It is at present an individual choice.
Government news due for self-employed
Hopefully today the government will issue their help plan for the self-employed and we will have a clearer option.
Yesterday, help was revealed for the hospitality trade and I know that most small businesses will be entitled to an automatic £10,000 grant. I’m not sure self-employed driving instructors would be classed as a small business and currently the grant is based on business rates.
But help will come.
The government are suddenly very busy, and I am actually amazed at how fast the document came out yesterday about grants etc.
But remember, all this help has to come from somewhere, it all has to be paid for, but I am sure most people including government are not really concentrating on that element yet, just getting the help out there.
Driving school franchises
I have seen a lot of talk about the big franchises not helping their instructors. I want to play devil’s advocate here and look at the bigger picture.
Before I do so, I appreciate that there are many driving instructors working who, like I said above, are worried and live day to day. A franchise has many mouths to feed. Not only have they the instructors to look after but sometimes a lot of staff. Staff who have concerns and worries like us. Staff with children and are the main bread winner.
I think every business owner would like to say “everybody go home on full pay for x amount of time.” But even for my small driving school, the phones are still ringing, pupils are still booking new lessons. Other pupils are calling to see if their lessons are still going ahead. Someone needs to answer these calls. The business currently still needs to run or there won’t be a driving school left after this has all blown over.
I have seen some posts with schools offering help, James at 2nd 2 None to name one offering a similar deal as myself to waive the franchise fee for self-isolation and during any enforced shut down. A big well done to schools who are trying to help but, I am sure James like me and others out there offering similar things are worried about how we’ll finance it, but like the government, we’ll worry about that after.
In this unusual time, we need to work together, driving instructor with driving instructor, driving school with driving school. This is all new to all of us and is an exceptional time.
Above all take the time to look hard for the positives. How can you make your school, lessons and teaching better out of this? If we have spare time, and we’re likely to have a lot of it, what could you do?
I have access to a couple of business forums and advice groups. These groups are very supportive in helping us all. The businesses range from very small and struggling, to very big where million-pound orders are made. The members are every sort of business including some political connections. I’m going to cascade any relevant stuff to us as I can.
Free toilet roll with every 10 lessons???
You’ve gotta laugh…
PS – I’ve also heard that if you try and call companies like Virgin and Sky and say you can’t afford it, they’ll reduce your bill. At the very least those of you with Sky Sports need to cancel it at the moment.
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.