Monthly Archives: January 2014

Changing the Driving Test Date

How to Change the Driving Test Date

This blog explains the process involved in changing a driving test date.

Driving Test DateThe Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website is the best place to go for booking and changing your driving test dates.  Here is the LINK..  There are organisations that provide the same service but can charge more, for no extra benefit.  You can change a driving test date either on the phone, or online completely free of charge.

You are able to change your driving test date up to 6 times without financial penalty, but do be aware that you must give them a clear 3 (working) day notice.  Make sure you don’t get caught out on that; informing them on a Friday about wanting to change the test for the following Monday is NOT 3 working days notice.

At Big Tom Driving School, we pay careful attention to the proper timing of a driving test.  Too soon, and even if you were to pass the test, you might feel very uncomfortable and nervous about driving independently following the test.  Too late, and you will be wasting your money on driving lessons you do not need.  We have a very easy and precise process that we go through to test your readiness for safe independent driving, post test; it enables us and very importantly YOU to see first hand, what your driving ability is in a variety of different driving conditions.  This process that has been uniquely developed for our customers has proven to be very beneficial for developing confidence, and improving readiness for the driving test. Although people often treat the driving test like an academic exam, with last minute swotting, it is worth emphasising that you are learning a life skill that will very likely be used every single day after passing the driving test.

Whilst the experience of a failed driving test should not be a waste of your time and money, at Big Tom Driving School, we pride ourselves on providing a quality service and value, by paying attention to aligning your driving test date to your confidence and ability. Ultimately though, every person who wishes to take the driving test in the UK has the right to use their own vehicle for the purposes of taking the driving test (subject to certain conditions on type of vehicle set by the DVSA and also subject to having insurance arranged for that purpose).

It is understandable why people will be keen to go to test as soon as possible, but it should be borne in mind that according to DVSA statistics, the national average pass rate is just under 50% with only very slight differences for the gender of the candidate, and the FIRST TIME pass rate is lower still. As such, the evidence does tend to suggest, that the majority of people are attempting the driving test too soon. Further evidence from viewing the BBC 3 series “Barely legal driving” does also question how ready some people are for driving independently after passing the driving test. Another mark of the standard of driving post-test is reflected in the very high premiums demanded to insure vehicles. The DVSA state that statistically, 1 in 5 newly qualified drivers will have an accident within 2 years of passing the driving test.

Check out our FAQ’s HERE.

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Learn to Drive in Bourne

Is it possible to learn to drive in Bourne?

This blog explores how useful it is to learn to drive in Bourne.

Driving Lessons BourneYesterday, McDonald’s were officially given planning permission to build a drive-thru restaurant in Bourne.  The reason I mention this fact is because I know from experience how tricky it can be when starting off driving, to drive into the drive-thru!

It’s a bit like these toll booths on the Dartford Crossing, where you have to throw money into a bin or when you have to drive up to these car park ticket machines.  How many times do you see drivers judging it wrong, and having to turn off the engine, release the seat belt, open the door, get out the car to get the ticket and then climb back in again.  It regularly happens to experienced drivers, so you can be sure this is a big deal when learning to drive.

But it is all good experience.  And building up experience is what we are after when learning to drive.

The problem with Bourne as a place to learn to drive, is that it simply does not have too much opportunity to build up experience of different situations.   There are no dual-carraigeways, no multi-storey car parks to drive up and down the levels, no car parks with barriers where you have to get a ticket from the machine, there are very few puffin or pelican crossings, no equestrian crossings (which is slightly surprising seeing as there are often horses seen on driving lessons in Bourne).   There are no spiral roundabouts, precious few roundabouts with multi-lanes on the approach.

The way to overcome this problem is to drive further afield.  I don’t just mean drive to Deeping, Morton, Rippingale, Corby Glen, I mean drive to Stamford, Peterborough, Grantham, Spalding.  Only by getting yourself out to these larger towns and cities will you start picking up a more diverse range of driving conditions, and that will be really good experience.

On the Big Tom Intensive Driving Courses we do precisely that.  We will often clock up more than 90 miles of driving experience in a session, getting experience of these larger locations, and very importantly, experience driving on these rural and semi-rural roads between them – such as the A15, A16 and A17.

So to answer the question directly of whether you can learn to drive in Bourne, the answer is yes.  But there is the world of difference between learning to drive in a town like Bourne and building experience that is going to help you drive anywhere in the UK.

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Best Way to Learn to Drive

A handy blog exploring the best way to learn to drive

Car keysThis blog explains the key differences between learning to drive on a Pay As You Go basis compared to an Intensive Driving Course.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) state in their ‘Learning To Drive’ publication that people who pass their driving test have had on average 45 hours of professional training, combined with 22 hours of private practice.  They stress that those figures are an average, “but generally the more driving experience you get, the better”.

Will learning to drive on a PAYG basis or an Intensive Driving Course affect those figures at all?  To answer that question we need to consider what is involved in a driving lesson.

Before a driving session begins, Driving Instructors will start off the session using a set structure.  It includes reviewing what was done on the last session, whether there are any questions, whether there has been any tasks/driving done since then and reviewing it.  It will include understanding where that previous session fits into the overall programme, the level of ability achieved, and what else needs to be done.  Objective(s) for the current driving session are set, and a brief discussion of any new subject matter is given before the car moves off.  Once the driving session is complete, there is a discussion of key learning points, a review of the achievement of the objective set, and consideration of setting any tasks to do before the next session.

That process of communication can easily take 10 minutes at the start and end of every driving session.  Driving Instructors are trained to undertake it as stipulated by the DVSA.    You then have to drive to the location most appropriate for the objective(s) set.

So if you were to take 45 x 1 hour driving sessions with a Driving Instructor, of those 45 hours, you will spend 15 hours, at the side of the road, talking to each other (as above).  As such, you will get about 30 hours driving experience.

If on the other hand you take those 45 hours in 4 hour sessions instead of 1 hour session, then the amount of time spent at the side of the road is reduced from 15 hours to 3.75 hours (just under 4 hours).  Which means, that rather than 30 hours driving experience, you will receive 41 hours driving experience.

Another benefit from driving on a longer session, is the ability to plan driving in more varied driving conditions/locations.  At Big Tom Driving School, on our Intensive Driving Courses, our customers regularly drive over 90 miles on a session, and cross county boundaries in the process.  As such, they are building up a larger bank of driving experience (see our Facebook page for evidence of this).

In addition to this, the rate of progress achieved, in general terms, by having a 4 hour driving session, every day for 7 days, compared to 1 hour per week for 28 weeks, should not be under-estimated.   For most people, that learning curve is not only very manageable but actually provides for a more efficient learning process – learning to ski would be another example of this methodology.

The advantages of PAYG include being more able to fit in private practise sessions between sessions with the Driving Instructor, and for some, shorter driving sessions are more desirable.  Also, some people like the flexibility of spreading the cost over a longer period of time (although read on to discover how this itself, does come at a cost).

There is one other quite important factor to note.  As a general rule, prices for driving sessions on a PAYG basis are significantly more expensive than the hourly rate on an Intensive Driving Course.  For the sake of argument let’s assume a PAYG hourly rate is £24/hr and an Intensive Driving Course hourly rate is £18/hr, then based on the above figures from the DVSA:  45 x £24 = £1080   45 x £18 = £810   So not only do you receive less driving experience on a PAYG basis, but you pay more for it too. 

So there you have it.  As with all things, there are positives and negatives for each method, and the best advice I can offer you is to consider your budget, schedule, and learning preferences and choose the method that will work for you personally.   

Check out our FAQ’s HERE.

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Driving Lessons | Good Pass Rates

Need to find a Driving Instructor with good pass rates?

Meeting RoomThis blog will explain how to identify good Driving Instructors in your area.

Good pass rates would be one method of identifying a Driving Instructor you can trust – true?  For the most part, this is a true statement, and in the same way as schools publish exam grades achieved, it is a measure of the trust and value you can place in the school.

But unlike schools and universities, a pupil learning to drive has more control over when they want to take their driving test.   Ideally, if a pupil is learning to drive with a Driving Instructor, their progress will be monitored, there will be clear goals being set, and it will be evident how much more learning is required to be done (much like the curriculum in schools).

However, the key difference is that a pupil may not want to wait for the optimum time to take the driving test.  There could be a whole range of reasons for that, but the end result is that if a pupil does take their driving test earlier than the Driving Instructor would advise, then who is to blame should the pupil fail the driving test?  (Gulp)

How do we fix this problem?

At Big Tom Driving School, we do pay attention to pass rates.  We also do pay attention to how long it takes our pupils to pass.  But, pupils do come to us with a range of natural ability, a range of previous experience, a range of learning style preferences, and a range of learning difficulties.  It would be too simplistic to ignore this fact.

Our solution, is to pay as much attention at the very start, as we will pay in the whole learning experience with our customers.  Providing an assessment to identify the right course, Instructor and vehicle for a pupil is done free of charge or obligation.  This is after all a 1:1, personalised learning experience.  We do cater for individuals specific needs, anxieties and concerns.  We very much understand that a good learning environment is a happy, relaxed and calm learning environment, and as such, we take the time and trouble to pay attention to detail at the very beginning.   Look at our testimonials here to see how often the word “calm” is used by our previous customers.

Discovering part way through a course when learning to drive, that you don’t like the teaching style of the Driving Instructor is an expensive lesson to learn; it will either mean changing Driving Instructor or putting up with a rather uncomfortable learning experience.

So, yes, good pass rates are a consideration when looking for a Driving Instructor.  But far more important is how a Driving Instructor can demonstrate to you that they can provide a pleasant, effective learning experience, that is tuned in to your needs. If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember this:

•  Maximising the efficiency of your learning experience will be of more value to you than any other generic measure of pass rates or prices.

Ignoring that fact, could be a costly mistake.

For driving lessons in Peterborough, Grantham, Bourne, Stamford, Spalding, get your free, no-obligation drive with Big Tom Driving School by calling 0800 689 4174

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Top 10 Tips for your Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough

Here are our Top 10 Tips for your Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough.

Driving Course in PeterboroghBig Tom Driving School runs Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough.  Here are 10 tips to maximise your intensive driving course experience.

On a recent ski trip, I could not help but notice that where ever I looked, I could see (and hear) different ski instructors all giving very similar advice to learners about how to ski.  I made a mental note to provide a similar list of top 10 tips for people learning to drive on our Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough.  Here goes, let’s dive in at number 10!

10. Enjoy the experience! This is your time, it’s your money, and everything is centered around you. Enjoy the attention, be comfortable in the driver’s seat, stop for a break when you need to.

9. Share your fears. We are all different, and although common anxieties include speed, large lorries, cyclists and buses, be sure to tell us anything that is troubling you. From bright sun in the eyes, to thick soled shoes making pedal pressure hard to judge, we pay attention to detail – it can be really important.

8. Start at the beginning. Some people feel that there is a need to take on roundabouts on Day 1 as they are doing an intense driving course in Peterborough. Relax, our ‘Beginners’ course has a whopping 40 hours of driving experience as standard. There is no need for cutting corners with Big Tom Driving School.

7. Believe in yourself. Nerves about the test are natural, but our customers are given so much driving experience that the driving test ends up being a non-event! No-one expects you to appreciate this from the start, but by Day 7, you really will be feeling good about your driving skills.

6. Use all our resources. Lean on us, this is what you are paying for. Use of video technology, on-line theory study material, experience with special needs, accurate progress monitoring; these are all freely available to you on our Intense Driving Course in Peterborough.

5. Engage, engage, engage. Get stuck in and you will be amazed at how much you can learn. Go and read our testimonials and on-line reviews to see how previous customers have gained so much by simply asking questions and engaging. Like our Facebook page, subscribe to the video channel, ask questions on our Learner forum, even Learners who are not our customers are doing exactly that!

4. Keep smiling. Remember that in any learning experience, there very often is a momentary step backwards, and then 2 steps forward, it is a common occurrence. Just remember to put things in perspective on your course and keep smiling; although you may not feel it, you will still be making progress in these trying times.

3. Try before you buy. With a financial investment of this type, you need to feel completely confident in your purchase before you commit – arrange a drive before you pay a single penny. Big Tom Driving School provides a no-obligation trial completely free of charge, to help you choose a course suitable for you, as well as to allow you to try out the car, meet the Driving Instructor.

2. Plan this, it wont just happen. Organise the child minder, take the holiday period off work, put the money aside and make this happen for you. It is never too late to learn to drive, but this investment in time and money will need to be arranged, putting it off for another day means that day never comes.

Number 1. Dare to dream. Imagine what driving will mean to you, what are the benefits to your day to day living, how will it improve your quality of life, your occupational ambitions, your family arrangements. It is important to recognise how this will change your life for the better…. now go live the dream!

Our ‘Beginners’ Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough provides a minimum of 40 hours of driving experience for £1200 (further discounts for over 25’s). 

We do a 5 day course for £597!  

Check out our FAQ’s.  


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Good Driving Instructor In Grantham

How do you find a good Driving Instructor in Grantham? This blog could save you lots of cash, as switching between Driving Instructors is an expensive mistake to make.

Driving Instructor GranthamFinding a good Driving Instructor in Grantham makes driving lessons enjoyable and maximises learning. This blog explores how this is achieved.

Before I expand any further on the specific subject of finding a good Driving Instructor in Grantham, let me tell you a true story that occurred very recently on my family skiing trip which is very appropriate to this blog.

My 2 young sons started skiing last year, and when we returned to the same resort in Bulgaria this Christmas, they were more than a little disappointed with the prospect of having to continue on the same ‘nursery’ slope that they had endlessly used the year before.

When my Wife and I approached their Instructor she told us that they were not ready to go up on the chair lift to other slopes. This presented us with a problem. We had 2 kids, really keen to learn to ski, but bored out of their heads with the nursery slope, and yet they were being told they were going to spend yet another week on it! Not good. What to do.

With much trepidation, we took all of us out of the ski school, and got the boys on the chair lifts to ski on many other slopes. It was an amazing week, their progress was nothing short of staggering, and we all spent a great time together. The sense of achievement (and relief) that the boys felt, was something that will stay with us a long time.

What was missing in the Instructor’s thoughts was how different 1:1 training is, compared to 1:15. Sure, she had one eye on ‘Health and Safety’, and I imagine it would have been impossible for her to control 15 young kids on demanding ski slopes that they had never experienced before. Although this has nothing to do with Driving Instructors in Grantham, I imagine you can see where I am going with this.

Don’t get the wrong message here. I’m not a ‘chancy’ Driving Instructor by nature; in the 6 years of providing driving lessons in Grantham, I have not had a single accident, so my intention is not to compromise safety in my message here. But this point about maximising learning is an important one, apart from making driving lessons more exciting and challenging, it can also significantly reduce the cost of learning to drive in Grantham.

In the teaching world, this is called ‘differentiation’; it is recognising that all of us have different abilities, and by identifying the needs of the person (not the group), it is possible to make very large strides in individual learning.

To get back to the subject of how to find a good Driving Instructor in Grantham. If you are about to start driving lessons in Grantham, and are ringing round then keep the above in mind. A good Driving Instructor will adapt to the person they have in front of them, and maximise learning which will keep the driving lessons stimulating, rewarding, and as my family recently discovered, open the possibility of feeling a real buzz from the sense of achievement.

Big Tom Driving School  

Call NOW:0800 689 4174

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