The standards check announcement should be nothing to worry about

So, as you’ll know by now, the DVSA have given more information on how the standards check will be changing. For the full communication from the DVSA, you can click here.

I wrote an article detailing my reaction in a blog post in the immediate aftermath of the initial announcement earlier in the week, which you can read here.

There seems to be a lot of concern within the driver training community around the recent news from the DVSA, particularly over the way driving instructors will be called for the standards check. In fact, it’s sent people into a bit of a frenzy.

driving instructor standards check
The DVSA’s announcement has whipped up a storm on Facebook this week

Rather than the four-yearly call-up that we’ve all gotten used to, the DVSA are now going to use the following criteria, each one known as a trigger. I’ve listed them below:

Average number of driving faults per test 5 or greater
Average number of serious faults per test 0.5 or greater
% of driving tests where the driving examiner had to take physical action 10% or higher
Driving test pass rate 55% or lower

The first thing to point out is that each trigger on its own will not lead to an early standards check. Over a 12-month rolling period, at least 3 out of 4 of these triggers will need to be activated to be called for a check by the DVSA.

Nobody can be happy with a 46% pass rate, surely. If you were, would you quote that in your advertising?

Let me take you back to something I’ve been saying and writing about for years. So much so that it’s included in training of my own driving instructors.

Driving faults

Practical driving tests are marked on driving faults. There are 4 types of fault:

  • Fault of no consequence
    • A fault did occur, but it was of no real issue and was not worthy of comment
  • Driver fault
    • Again, a fault occurred, but this time if there had been someone around that could have been affected by the action, would have been marked as serious. But in this case there was nobody and it did not break a law so it gets recorded as a driving fault
  • Serious fault
    • This is a driving fault that broke a law, had another road user involved – or it was something that potentially could have been dangerous. It wasn’t dangerous but could have been
  • Dangerous fault
    • Either the examiner or another road user had to act

Often I say that the outcome of a fault is dictated by the outside surroundings.

A driver fault today might be a serious fault tomorrow – and vice versa. As driving instructors we have no control over the type of fault. But do we have any control over the amount of faults? I would argue, yes.

In my early days as an instructor, I used to keep accurate, up-to-date records of every fault in every test my pupils took. This included the type of fault, the route, the examiner and the weather. With this information I could see what my average was and where I was seeing more than an average type of fault in any of the criteria.

At one stage I began to notice quite a few faults to do with gears and positioning. It wasn’t that pupils were failing so much for those faults, but they seemed to stand out. So I spoke to examiners to ask advice as to what they were about. I took this advice and those faults almost disappeared. Then I took the next faults and reduced them – and so on.

My pass rate rocketed and my average number of faults dropped to 2.3 (yes, an odd amount but that’s the beauty of a spreadsheet). You’ll notice I said ‘faults’ because occasionally it might be 3 driver faults or 1 driver and 1 serious fault, meaning a fail for my pupil but a success for me. Not the outcome I wanted but I knew that by reducing the overall number of faults, I would increase pass rates and reduce the chances of those serious faults.

Remember, as driving instructors we have no control over the type of fault that happens on a test.

If you’re scoring an average of 0-5 faults per test (even if some are Serious or occasional dangerous faults) then you’re doing well. I’ve been saying this for years. If you’re averaging 5-10 faults, you need to look at your training and anything above, seriously look at training. Yes, we all get the occasional pupil who seems to constantly fail, I had one take 7 attempts. But everybody has these pupils – and the fact they’re an occasional pupil means they shouldn’t damage your averages, especially if you are taking plenty to test.

Exceedingly good pass rates

I noted in my previous article that many instructors feel the pressure to take pupils to their test too early. Well here’s your incentive to not do this.

Many years ago as a student, I worked for a cake company. I won’t say who they are, but they did make exceedingly good cakes. We were packing jam tarts or apple pies, and someone would be watching us for speed and quality. If anybody on the line was slow, then a supervisor would pull them up. If they were putting in smashed pies (believe me, its all too easy) then they would be stopped. Everybody’s had a supervisor in their time – or somebody who oversees the quality of their work.

As self-employed driving instructors, we don’t have supervisors. We must take on that role ourselves. Remember we all got hooked in by ‘being our own boss’?

We’re better than some of the talk on Facebook this week

Let’s not talk of withholding badges or only taking ‘good’ pupils. Well, not unless you have no conscience.

We do this job to teach all without discriminating and we welcome the challenges. The more you put in for test, the more the good, low fault passes will water down the occasional high score ones. Work with the system and good ADIs will always shine through.

Nobody can be happy with a 46% pass rate, surely. If you were, would you quote that in your advertising? The number of faults, not test passes will bring the figures up. I know our teaching should be goals-focused rather than fault-based, but here we are having our performance marked by just that. I am not sure of another way.

Now at last someone is looking at a way to improve the number of pupils passing by focusing on the rates rather than making the test harder and not with real life scenarios. It puts pass rates firmly in the hands of driving instructors, exactly where they belong.

While you’re here…

With a bit of extra time than usual on my hands last year, I was able to relaunch my famous Lesson Planner. Those who have followed my training methods for years will be familiar with the old version of it.

With new graphics and revised teaching tips, the latest version of the Lesson Planner is built around the DVSA’s current ‘Learning to Drive‘ syllabus, meaning every single lesson you teach is covered by the book.

  • Produced to help you pass your part 3/standards check
  • Written for all learning styles
  • Detailed plans that encourage structured lessons
  • Order before 4pm weekdays for same-day dispatch
  • FREE p&p!
  • Click the banner below for more information

driving lesson planner

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