In this blog, owner of BIG TOM Driving School, Tom Ingram provides some clear guidance to prospective customers about how the popular BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course operates (Sales: 0775 607 1464)
The BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course is accessible to all – unlike other providers, there is no requirement to be at a certain level of driving ability before coming on the course.
The course content is based on the DVSA Driving Standard. Customers will train on a variety of class of road eg single track, dual carriageway, single carriageway of varying maximum speed limits. There are generally speaking 4 modes of driving: town (urban), country (rural), manoeuvres and faster (50-70mph). All customers will be required to show confidence, consistent ability and efficiency in driving within these driving modes before being authorised to go to test. The ethos of the driving school is to encourage pupils to drive more, so they experience more, so that they learn more. At this driving school we do not teach pupils on driving test routes so that they get “coached” to pass a driving test only.
Customers are advised to pass the theory test prior to attending the intensive driving course so that this theory can be applied to actual driving conditions when on the in-car driving training. They are also provided with pre-course resources that will significantly prepare them for the in-car training that is going to take place. However, the responsibility for taking this advice is with the customer and may affect the timing of outcomes if ignored.
Customers are invited to put as much personal context to the training as they desire: practise on a multi-storey car park, in a “drive thru” restaurant, on a journey that they will regularly travel etc. This is entirely their choice.
The graph attached demonstrates the fact that the driving ability and confidence of a customer can vary dramatically depending on the initial starting point (extent of previous experience). BIG TOM personnel do not exert any pressure on a customer to achieve a certain level of driving ability within a certain period – any pressure of this nature does little to assist the learning environment. Customer’s expectations are managed from the first point of contact right through the process by way of an initial traffic light grading system and a very accurate assessment phase. Bear in mind when viewing this graph that the steepness of the learning curve (progress made) is dependent on many factors: the effectiveness of the training, how well the pupil prepares for the sessions, the motivation of the pupil and ability to overcome obstacles to learning. Care should be taken not to assume that progress will automatically be steadily linear as shown in the graph.
BIG TOM Driving School prides itself on being able to develop safe, independent drivers who manage to obtain their driving licence in far quicker timescales than the traditional “pay as you go” method, however, all customers should recognise that this outcome is not a given. The path a pupil takes when learning to drive is pretty unique and dependent on many variables that can be personal to the pupil – it is very unhelpful and often distracting, if a customer ignores this point due to an unrealistic expectation that merely being present in the driving seat for a certain period of time, in itself, will guarantee specific outcomes. Whilst the BIG TOM blog does show several examples of previous customers who attend the Intensive Driving Course and pass their driving test on the first attempt on Day 5 of the course, all customers should be mindful of the relationship between ability, previous driving experience and experience of effective learning environments. There is a 30 day period for continued training after Day 5 should a customer not be ready for test. The onus to keep training on this accelerated learning programme within that period is with the customer – should a customer not be authorised for test after 30 days, on request BIG TOM will ensure a test is booked in any case for a time in the future so that the fee is not lost.
When BIG TOM Driving School trains pupils it embraces the Driving Standard from the DVSA and their assertion that:
“It is impossible to force learning on a pupil. Progress is always determined by what the pupil is comfortable with. The skill is recognising when the pupil stops learning. The pace of a session should be set by the pupil. On the other hand a pupil should not be talked out of experimenting, if this is within safe bounds.”
It also states:
“Transfer the balance of responsibility for their learning process to the learner as soon as they are ready to take it”
The reason why the DVSA make this point is to ensure that pupils are developing a learning environment that they are comfortable with and that is effective for them personally. In taking on that responsibility the pupil is more likely to further develop the necessary skills that will equip them for continued learning even after they pass their driving test.
These are significant points from the DVSA that BIG TOM Driving School driving instructors fully embrace. This driving school does not simply “coach” pupils to pass a driving test.
To assist pupils in appreciating how they are progressing on their course, there are 2 assessments that are undertaken on Day 3 and Day 5 which offer a snapshot of ability and confidence in areas that have been covered up to that point. Customers are provided with hard copies of these assessments so that they can provide guidance of progress to any interested parties, and also so that it provides a structure to the ability at that point of time. The assessments are closely aligned to the standard expected by the DVSA but do not neglect the powerful effects that confidence provides.
Customers are not able to ignore the assessments provided in the expectation of taking a driving test regardless of the risk that might bring to the safety of DVSA staff and/or the customer or damage to vehicles. In the event that customers do not choose to heed the advice being given to them, they can request a test booking in the future for them to take the test in another vehicle. BIG TOM Driving School takes the responsibility of training pupils to become safe, independent drivers seriously; this does not involve the prospect of authorising pupils to take the driving test being reckless to possible outcomes of risk. Customers are politely informed that the DVSA do track what occurs on driving tests with the driving instructor who authorised the pupil to go to test – and would be prepared to hold driving instructors to account for any unprofessional conduct regarding safety risks.
A very important feature of the course that works in conjunction with the assessments provided is the “action plan” that pupils are encouraged to create. This develops a sense of responsibility not only to ensure their training is effective FOR THEM, but also it places a bias on developing safe driving skills rather than concentrating on driving faults. Whilst it is quite understandable and arguably to be expected with a driving test assessment that focuses on driving faults, more encouragement is given to pupils to think of transferable skills that can be used in differing driving situations such as unfamiliar locations, varying weather conditions etc. It will often be shortfalls in key skills of anticipation, forward planning, risk assessment, hazard identification etc that CREATES driving faults, and training a pupil to not create driving faults on given test routes is not what my driving school is all about.
BIG TOM Driving School Intensive Driving Courses in Lincoln, Peterborough, Grantham, Spalding, Stamford and Boston Bookings 0775 607 1464