Good Driving Instructor Training: Is It Better 10 Years On?

In this article, Dave Foster MA, Dip. DI gives his professional take on whether driving instructor training has got better or worse in the last decade. As well as holding a Master’s Degree in the field, Dave has had first hand knowledge in the driver training education community over that time.

Historically, there has been a huge problem with the training of driving instructors and a lack of good driving instructor training. Some driving schools set up purely to make money out of the training of driving instructors. A driving school training establishment could charge upwards of £6000 and there was little chance of success or good driving instructor training. In addition to this, the school could keep you on a trainee licence scheme for up to a year (6 months plus an extension). The weekly fees could be in the hundreds so its easy to see how money could be made.

Watch: Dave’s video on the trainee licence scheme

image for good driving instructor trainingThe trainees having parted with huge sums of money and often on finance would stand little chance of passing. The training establishments did not actually encourage good driving instructor training, as their market of potential trainees would have dried up. There are some interesting figures in that it’s believed a major player to the instructor training market some years back were training some 93,000 instructors and claimed 95% qualification rate. The actual figures for the how many driving instructors pass each year is published by the DVLA and the figure was around 2,500 – and that was for every school.

The few decent schools that needed driving instructors to work for their schools struggled to get a look in and the industry started to get a bad name. We saw not so good driving instructor training featured on Trevor Mcdonald’s Tonight program and a few others. Fortunately with the new wave of companies like DTE-Elite and others, the industry was put back in good light. The rouge training establishments saw the light and many disappeared or changed their name – although be careful because some still exist!! Some saw their business model as flawed and set up driving schools within the pupil market and created real opportunities for their driving instructors.
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ORDIT and good driving instructor training

ORDIT, the Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers (of which DTE-Elite is a member) was also no better a measure. ORDIT looked at the paperwork and looked at one sample driving lesson delivered by the driving instructor. This lesson was often about a pre-set test and thankfully this system has gone now as this was too flawed. My research showed that while many thought their own training was poor, they had themselves took no further training to become a driving instructor trainer themselves. This left me wondering where they got their own skill set from to be able to call themselves instructor trainers.

Many instructor trainers simply were not qualified or experienced in training the instructors. The simple fact is that training an instructor for good driving instructor training is about teaching teaching. Rote teaching people pre-set tests did little to allow instructors to understand teaching. They believed they needed a fix for every fault. That in theory meant 1000’s of faults and 1000’s of fixes. Does a history teacher (or for that matter any other teacher) have to demonstrate teaching history, and are they taught how to deliver every lesson? No, they are taught teaching and apply it with a syllabus to their subject knowledge, a history degree. Likewise with good instructor training we should teach teaching, the trainee instructor applies it to their knowledge tested in part one and two.

Concluding good instructor training.

Schools and instructors today are being tested on their ability to teach, the not so new Standards test. It’s looking like quite a learning curve for many including those with several years teaching under their belt. I think eventually the whole standard will step up and we will start seeing more and more good instructor training. This will lead to better instructors and then safer drivers on our roads.
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