Don’t jump yet – read until the end!
This article looks at the 5 most common reasons for failing and will give you tips on how to avoid the common pit-falls.
I am going to start off with what, in my opinion, is the number one reason above all that makes people fail. I have seen this happen so often. I’ve spent hours working on this with hundreds of trainees and its quite personal. Literally personal. It’s YOU. Not me, not your trainer, not the examiner, the car or the pupil its YOU.
Now this may sound harsh, but until we get this straight, until you accept this fact, you will not be able to get anywhere. Once you accept this, then there is GREAT news. FANTASTIC news because YOU can do something about it. You would not be able to affect the situation if you were the examiner, pupil, trainer or next doors dog. But you can do something about it.
The examiner myth
Let’s rid ourselves of the ‘examiner myth.’ I’ve sat in hundreds of part 3 tests and I have never disagreed with one result. There may be the odd point I may not have completely agreed with, but the outcome will always be correct. Human nature wants to give good news and an examiner really wants to give you good news, but they are bound by what they see.
The pupil myth
You are in charge of your pupil, if you haven’t already been told this then listen to me now.
Your pupil will regress backwards while on Standards Test or a Part 3 Test.
Yes, they will act out of character, they will throw you off and do things ‘they never normally do.’ This is GOOD a chance to prove you can teach. Remember, one of THE most common reasons for failure is ‘was the lesson plan adapted, where appropriate, to help the pupil work towards their learning goal?’
Above: Watch my video on the Adapted Lesson Plan section of the Standards Check/Part 3 Test
So you have a chance to adapt your plan and work towards the goal. All too often, I and examiners see an instructor let something pass that should have been dealt with. I question the instructor afterwards and I hear “I was going to deal with that next lesson.”
Let’s look at this analogy;
You are painting a wall when you notice a crack. You paint over it hoping the paint will fill the gap. Initially it looks as if it does but as the paint dries, the crack is noticeable. A week later and the crack is back. What you needed to do is STOP PAINTING and analyse why the crack was there in the first place. Clean out the crack and fill the crack with the appropriate filler. Sand down and then re-start the painting. (This is a simplistic view I know)
By no means am I suggesting that we start to use sandpaper on our pupils, but we can apply that analogy with driving lessons. You need to stop what you are doing and change the plan so the cracks in the pupils driving do not re-appear.
You need to show a complete solution to any faults or risks. The examiner needs to see that you can fix them today too. Not next week or next lesson. If you can show that you can give appropriate feedback well timed, a complete and detailed analysis and using learning styles that suit this particular learner, you’ve cracked it.
Remember this very old training quote.
See it, say it, sort it
Really, if you see it SAY IT and sort it today, now, immediately, do not pass go, do not collect…sorry, got carried away.
The trainer myth
Now there are good trainers out there, and a whole lot of bad ones. Well, not bad ones but ones that don’t realise they don’t really understand training the trainer. This is a touchy subject, but I am still seeing forum comments about the old ‘rote’ teaching of subjects.
How did you choose your trainer?
I bet you didn’t – he came with the school you chose. We choose our school on price of the training or the FREE training. Maybe they “will refund your training fees” but how do you know your trainer is not good or the best. My first clue would be to look at who they are blaming. Do they blame the examiner, or the pupil? Do they take responsibility for their fails and passes? Have they done any additional training to teach instructors, or better still any actual teaching qualifications?
A teaching qualification is what first ignited my understanding and desire to know more about training the trainer. ORDIT currently is no measure either.
During my research for my Master’s Degree, my thesis was about the failure rate of the Part 3 Test. I found that most trainers agreed that the training they received when becoming a driving instructor was poor. They also told me that they had done no additional training themselves to become a trainer of trainers. Where did they get the knowledge and skills from, I wonder?
A good instructor will not keep telling you what to do, but rather coach the information from you or show you how, when you are on your own with a pupil, you can find the information. It may seem frustrating that your trainer won’t just give you the answers, but they are trying to get you from where you are now to the place you need to be.
Top reasons for failing
1. The instructor does not change the lesson plan.
This I have dealt with earlier, but to re-emphasise you need to adapt the plan to what you see now.
2. No real goals set or not specific
Setting manageable goals is a must. You cannot measure whether learning has taken place if you do not set goals. Keep them simple. Check out my video on SMART objectives.
3. Not ensuring the responsibility would be shared
There are no mysteries to this, and it does NOT mean just telling them there are dual controls in the car. Use of the GROW model (See my video on this below) will help you understand where to put this and how to use scaling.
4. Sufficient feedback not given on safety critical aspects
If you see something say it and use a comprehensive analysis. Not just “you will fail your test or crash.” What things might lead your pupil to do this again? What additional risk factors are there and what can your pupil do to avoid this? And this is your pupil talking, not YOU.
5. Technical information not correct
I, and examiners have heard so many amazing things in lessons and tests. Much of it I’m sure from Hans Christian Anderson, because I can’t find it in any driving books. Trainers have passed on all sorts of knowledge and often with no grounding. If someone tells me something that I think is ‘suspect,’ I ask where it came from. I then ask the same thing, “What does it say about it in the ‘Highway Code’ or ‘Driving: The Essential Skills?'” I am always met with a “don’t know” or the equivalent. Now I don’t want to get into an argument over this. You can tell me, your pupil or the examiner whatever you want but answer this.
What information is the examiner on test most likely to not argue with?
a) The information your trainer gives you
b) The information I give you
c) Something you make up because it sounds good
d) The information in the Highway Code
In education we refer to ‘the empirical fact’
Empirical: Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
All teaching starts with an ‘empirical fact’
This list of failure reason is not exhausted (unlike you, having read this far). This article is designed to get you thinking, accept responsibility and question how you will approach things next.
P.S. One of the biggest problems is confidence, you can do this – and if you don’t believe me take a look at the lack of knowledge in the forums. YOU are better than this aren’t you! If they can do it, then so can you. I believe in you and all my trainees in the past and the future. Ask and you shall find.
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.