Monthly Archives: April 2015

I’ve Passed My Driving Test in Peterborough

John pass

Congratulations to John for passing his driving test first time!

Here is John, immediately after passing his driving test in Peterborough this morning. He has every right to be pleased with himself. At the age of 64 he has come to driving a little later than many, but was very keen to share the burden of driving with his Wife when they go on long journeys.

Although John would be first to say that he never looked forward as such to his driving lessons, he always felt comfortable in the car, and did the vast majority of his sessions in 2 hour blocks. This is what John had to say about his driving lessons last year:

“As a 63 year old who had never had a driving lesson I feel very lucky that I found Tom Ingram through the Directory. He is very patient and has a clear sense of how progress is made; he also has the ability to communicate that sense. He also has an excellent sense of humour and is open to the learner’s suggestions. All of which means that the lessons are enjoyable even for someone who still finds driving often intimidating.”

Big congratulations to John for passing his driving test in Peterborough on the first attempt and many happy years of safe, enjoyable driving with your Wife.


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Guaranteed pass on Intensive Driving Course

car side

Have you heard? Guaranteed pass on intensive driving course, yes you heard right, “you are guaranteed to pass your driving test on an intensive driving course”.

You know when things sound too good to be true, they usually are? Well, yes, the same applies above.

I feel the need to dispel a myth or 2 about intensive driving courses. I should firstly state my own experience in this subject. I have been providing intensive driving courses in Peterborough and Grantham for 5 years now, and they can be extremely effective. Only this week, a pupil of mine who did a 30 hour course in February, passed her driving test first time, some 2 months later; the only reason for the delay was due to poor weather resulting in a cancellation of her original test date. But, and it’s a big but, she did a 30 hour intensive driving course, and all of the negativity that I hear surrounding intensive driving courses appears to be coming from the 5 day 20 hour courses. For the record, I provide a choice of courses with different durations dependent on previous experience and ability, but not all providers do the same; some ONLY provide 20 hour courses.

I am increasingly hearing from very disgruntled parents and pupils who were under the impression that these courses provide a “guaranteed pass” – and I use those 2 words deliberately, it appears to be at the root of all the bitterness. But the fact of the matter is that often, not only do they not guarantee a pass at the test, they don’t even guarantee that having completed the course, you will be authorised to even do the test. One such Father, Mr Davis, contacted me very recently, and was very annoyed that he paid £899 for his Son to have a 5 day, 20 hour course with a provider in Peterborough, and not only did his Son get refused the opportunity to take the driving test having completed the course, but he would then have to pay for further driving lessons that could not be started for a further 3 weeks time!

And this appears to be at the heart of the issue. An intensive driving course is an accelerated learning programme and no provider can guarantee how much progress a pupil will make when they attend a course. The actual benefit, rather than being anything to do with how you progress, is actually that you are being given the opportunity to learn in a much shorter timescale than is the norm. How many hours one Learner requires can differ considerably to another, it is a complex mix of ingredients that include the learning style preferred by the pupil, the teaching style of the instructor, the environment which includes the comfort in the car and how the time is managed, and it also includes what other influences there are on the pupil eg peer pressure, attitudes to driving from friends/family, and previous experiences.   When you start to actually consider what might AFFECT the rate at which someone learns to drive, you begin to realise how silly it is to think that everyone can learn in a set time of 20 hours.

On BIG TOM Intensive Driving Courses, we pay attention to the detail. We treat our pupils as individuals not numbers, and we make every effort to create positive outcomes in ability and attitude that will help to create a safe, efficient driver for years to come.

My ending piece of advice is to not take anything on face value with any advertisement you see, question every aspect of the course, here are just 5 questions that I would recommend you ask all providers:

  1. If I am not ready to take the driving test after my course, what support would I then be entitled to eg how soon do I get more training, will it be with the same instructor in the same car and at what cost?
  2. Can you give me a breakdown of ALL the costs that I will need to pay to attend the course and use your driving school car for the driving test.
  3. How will I know if I am on track on your course, and what assistance do you give if I start to fall behind within the course itself?
  4. How do I know if my personal circumstances are suitable to attend your course? Do you adapt your courses to suit certain needs about how I like to learn?
  5. If I have absolutely no previous driving experience at all, is it realistic for me to attend your course, immediately take the test and pass it?

The answers that you receive to these questions will help you to decide whether an intensive driving course with that provider is good for you.

I hope this blog helps to erase some of the myths about intensive driving courses. Only today, Richard from Peterborough contacted us at BIG TOM and initially spoke of this “guaranteed pass”. Here is what he had to say after speaking with us:

“Hmmm, yes I see there are a lot of loopholes that most people would not see. I’m well and truly put off of the idea for sure, thank you for your wisdom, you may have stopped me from a possible bad choice.” Richard Lock

As we all know, there are very few guarantees in life, and it is utter nonsense to think that every single person can attend a 5 day, 20 hour course and have some kind of guaranteed pass on an intensive driving course. There is not even a guarantee that you will be ready to TAKE the driving test, let alone pass it.

For more details of BIG TOM Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough and Grantham, just click HERE.


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Help! I keep failing the driving test.

road closed

A Mum rang me today “Can you help please. My Son keeps failing the driving test”.

It turns out that her Son has now had 4 attempts at the driving test, and keeps failing for completely different reasons eg the Police were searching someone on the road and it put him off, on another test he drove the wrong way up a one way street. The relationship between her Son and the Driving Instructor had now broken down. But her Son has another driving test in 4 days time and she wanted to know could I assist?

At one point she said “It’s crazy, it seems to me that whether anyone passes the test or not is completely down to luck, depending on what else is going on”.

I can entirely see where she is coming from….. but would not agree.

I recounted to her the incident that happened very recently on a driving test in Grantham, whereby the Examiner said in Signal Road “At the end of the road, turn left please”.   I was in the back of the car observing the test, and saw that when we got to the end of the road, there was a long stretch of road works where half the road that we were turning into, was coned off. So now, there was only one lane of traffic in the road we needed to turn left into, but traffic could come from either left or right. Temporary traffic lights were at either end of the road works. We could just about see the end of the road works to our right, but it was blind to our left.

What to do? There were no traffic lights in Signal Road. Would you just emerge left and hope for the best?

My pupil looked right again, and saw that there was a car stopped by the temporary traffic lights. She waited for that car to eventually move towards us and THEN, she emerged left. Clever stuff. Thinking on her feet. She had correctly deduced that when that car to her right started to move, the traffic lights there would have turned green, and as such, the traffic lights controlling traffic to our left, would have turned red so she could move off. Turned out that she was correct. There were 4 cars being held on the other red traffic light when we passed them. The Examiner did not intervene once, and no mention was made of it in the de-brief either.

But consider for a moment how differently that COULD have gone if turning left too soon had been met by those 4 cars coming the other way! Who would be to blame? Would it be the fault of the people doing the road works for not including traffic lights in Signal Road? Would it be the fault of the Examiner for choosing a test route that had road works on it? Would it be the fault of the Driving Instructor for not preparing the pupil properly for such eventualities? Would it be put down to “test nerves”?

It is very easy to blame driving test fails on Driving Instructors, Examiners, other road users etc if you keep failing the driving test, but ultimately there is no substitute for driving experience. The ethos of BIG TOM Driving School is “Drive more, to experience more, to learn more”.   It is a winning concept, that truly gets results. If you keep failing the driving test, call us now on 0800 689 4174 or fill this very short form out and we guarantee to get back to you….. no excuses!


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Our 5 Day Intensive Driving Course in Grantham gets results!

kelly pass

This is Kelly who recently passed her driving test after doing the BIG TOM 5 day Intensive Driving Course in Grantham for £597.

She has a big smile on her face as she really, really needed to pass her test before she flew off for a year abroad! Time was very tight for Kelly! Her Examiner was the Test Centre Manager at Grantham Driving Test Centre who she said made her feel very calm, and helped by having a relaxed manner.   She was one of the first to pass her driving test at the newly located Test Centre on the A52, and she had no complaints at all with the new set up. Having passed her test first time with less than 5 driving faults she was very complimentary about the time she spent with BIG TOM Driving School on her 5 day Intensive Driving Course in Grantham.

“Great guy who knows what he is doing, I would definitely recommend” – Kelly

Thank you Kelly for your feedback, and have a really great time abroad!


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Grantham Driving Test Centre – New Location

grantham zebra 3

Grantham Test Centre


The location for Grantham Driving Test Centre has changed in March 2015. It can now be found HERE. This is a fabulous change for people taking their driving test at Grantham, and a large improvement on the previous small test centre in a dense residential area.

It is a former HGV check point and as such still has a very large outbuilding which is not used for the purpose of car driving tests. The large car park is controlled with a max speed limit of 10 mph and it also has strict lane segregation for staff, through traffic, visitor parking etc. One of the lanes that is used on the driving test at Grantham has a solid stop line which must be adhered to.

There are several parking bays that are used in a different area of the car park for the purpose of the reverse bay park, should that be your manoeuvre to do on the driving test. They are only on the right side however, so there is no option for performing a left reverse bay park. Having said that, the space available to do the manoeuvre is very large, much larger than the previous Grantham Driving Test Centre.

One of the other significant differences is that as you come out of the car park, you are now emerging on to the A52 which will have traffic travelling on it up to 60 mph. Again, this is quite different to the previous set up, that was located within 30 mph restrictions.

At the time of writing (09/04/2015), all driving tests undertaken under the BIG TOM Driving School have resulted in first time passes, so not only does this location represent a significant improvement in terms of the location, but as yet, we have yet to have a test fail.

And long may it continue…


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