Monthly Archives: December 2015

Pass Rates in Peterborough and Grantham

Interested in pass rates? Here are the very latest pass rates for the UK and also Peterborough and Grantham as released by the DVSA.

The following data is for the period July – September 2015:

  • Number of theory tests conducted is up 17% from last year, and practical driving tests is up 5%. The theory test pass rate is 50% and the practical driving test is 47%, male being 51% and female 44%.
  • The pass rate at Grantham is 52% with the number of pupils passing the test on their first attempt being 50%. For Peterborough the pass rate is lower at 45% with the first time pass rate at 46% (historically, Peterborough has always had a lower pass rate than Grantham).
  • Driving test waiting times are 4/3/16 for Grantham and 9/3/16 for Peterborough – both coming in at a 12 week waiting time. Remember that BIG TOM Driving School customers get their tests booked for them in much shorter waiting times than those figures quoted.
  • That is the last blog for 2015. Big congratulations to all BIG TOM customers who passed their test in 2015 and thank you for your custom – do keep in touch with the driving school, and remember the journey for you has just begun, there is still much to learn about driving safely, discovering how your driving ability is affected by other influences.
  • Safe driving to all readers – have a great Christmas and peaceful new year. Tom

BIG TOM Driving School Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Spalding, Stamford, Sleaford, Bourne. FREEPHONE: 0800 689 4174


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Intensive Driving Course in Grantham News

BIG TOM Driving School continues to offer our Intensive Driving Course in Grantham 01476 850050 and this blog is aimed at the pupils (and their parents) who are simply looking for the latest news about the courses and information about learning to drive.

On the BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course in Grantham our customers are asked to think of all aspects of road safety including the responsibilities that come with having your full driving licence. Car insurance, willingness to check tyres, eco driving, identifying fatigue, managing in-car distractions are some examples that are covered on our courses, because our experience shows that if learner drivers are not encouraged to raise their awareness of these things, unfortunately they can pass under the radar, and then they are not making informed decisions. Take car insurance as just one example. Latest figures from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau estimate there are 300,000 young uninsured drivers in the UK. The figure is ever increasing as the average cost for 18-20 year old car insurance is now £972 per year. The consequences of this fact are far reaching for everyone not least the drivers. In our courses, customers are encouraged to consider their attitude to driving around without insurance, the possible outcomes, identify the influencing factors that consciously and unconsciously affect their future behaviour. Take a look at this video.

How quickly can you respond for an emergency stop? Thankfully, these situations don’t crop up too often in normal day to day driving, but on the BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course in Grantham our customers are encouraged to discover how responsive they are, and some of the factors that might affect their response times. You see, we are all different, and attempting to check response times of getting on the brake pedal in an emergency in the same way that one might check eyesight by looking at a registration plate at a certain distance is not very sensible. A drivers response time to stop the car in an emergency can be affected by many factors, and having an appreciation of them and how much they affect stopping distances does open the mind about thinking of emergency stops in a more realistic manner than just how quickly you apply brakes when a driving instructor raises their hand and says “STOP”. It’s an eye opener believe us – and as weird as it might sound, it’s actually very beneficial to raise awareness of your own personal strengths and weaknesses when driving. Take this short test for a bit of fun on the subject, the programme predicted my age within just 2 years, so pretty accurate for me!

According to latest RAC research a staggering 81% of company car drivers admit to regularly breaking the 70mph speed limit, this compares to what is still an eye watering 69% of private motorists. On the Intensive Driving Course in Grantham it is a sad fact that our customers will regularly witness excessive speeding by drivers on a range of roads from driving around Grantham town centre, to the rural roads leading to the villages on the outskirts of Grantham, and including the A1. Understanding what our individual beliefs are about speeding, and appreciating how factors like peer pressure, conditioning from role models, and busy schedules can affect those beliefs is an important thought process to go through. Evidence shows that rarely do we intentionally choose to speed, and with the best of intentions or perceptions of the speeds we THINK we drive at, often the reality can be different. One question is why we choose to not let technology assist us in this regard. Despite the overwhelming evidence that places a direct link between loss of control of a vehicle and excessive speed, there still appears to be divided opinion about the use of “Intelligent Speed Adaption” technology. Here at BIG TOM we welcome such technology as we recognise that human behaviour by its very nature is complex, sometimes unpredictable and often unintentional . But feel free to take a look at this technology used by Ford and let us know your opinion on managing speed while driving.

BIG TOM Driving School   Intensive Driving Course in Grantham    Book now: 01476 850050


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BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course Learner Blog Update

The purpose of this blog is to aid communication for all customers attending the BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough, Grantham, Spalding, Stamford, Bourne, Sleaford. Call 0800 689 4174

Very recently on the BBC there was a piece on the poor safety statistics for Lincolnshire Roads.  It is actually making the point that deaths and serious injury on rural (country) roads in the UK had been steadily declining at nearly half the rate in 2012 that it was in 2005.  However, since 2012, the trend is reversed and is currently getting significantly worse.  As Lincolnshire has 155,000 miles of rural roads, they chose to come to our county and more than that they actually visited the “new” Peterborough to Spalding bypass due to the number of fatalities it has had in the 5 years since its construction.  If you monitor BIG TOM Driving School social links you will see that BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course customers get to drive on that particular stretch of road precisely for the reason of developing the skill of recognising when driving conditions worsen and danger is ahead.  It is a vital skill to develop and BIG TOM Intensive Driving Courses specifically feature that particular road – this is an opportunity that may not be available (due to time restrictions) on traditional pay as you go driving lessons.  There are other particular areas that are covered on BIG TOM Intensive Driving Courses which we would be happy to share with you should you want to know.  HERE IS THE LINK to the show which we recommend you take time out to watch (there are 2 separate clips in the show, both worth watching):

The Christmas 2015 THINK! Drink Drive Campaign: In The Doghouse #butalive is HERE.

The Driving Examiner strike action has now passed.  Our local test centres were affected unfortunately.  Do remember that if you prefer, we do offer at BIG TOM Driving School to take the stress and frustration of booking tests away from you, by providing a special service for BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course customers only.  This has the added benefit of easily arranging tests that suit both your own diary whilst also making sure the driving school is available for the test slot too.  It is possible for us to help you jump the long driving test queues.

Tom from BIG TOM Driving School is attending the last CPD training event for 2015 later this week.  He enrolled on the BTEC 4 Professional Award in Coaching for Driver Development earlier this year, and part of the course is to attend 1 day sessions and this next one is in Newport Pagnell.  Any pupils of BIG TOM Driving School from Grantham, Peterborough, Bourne, Sleaford, Stamford or Spalding who would be prepared to have parts of their intensive driving course recorded and provide their thoughts and feelings for the purposes of enabling Tom to formally record his progress, are encouraged to show their willingness to assist.  There are a number of ways that the driving school can thank you for your assistance in this regard and we would be happy to discuss this further.

BIG TOM Intensive Driving courses in Grantham, Peterborough, Sleaford, Bourne, Spalding and Stamford are available within a choice of 2 slots per day.  We offer our customers either 8-12 or 1-5 slots, this is because the feedback from our customers tells us that this choice can be important for busy people with other commitments.  Do also remember that at BIG TOM, the sessions start and finish at the customers chosen pick up point which can be a work or home address; another example of the flexibility provided by BIG TOM Driving School.

BIG TOM Intensive Driving Courses   Freephone 0800 689 4174



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Driving School in Bourne – weekly update 4/12/15

Your local driving school in Bourne gives you all the motoring info around your area…

  • A serious accident at the weekend involving a silver Toyota Corolla on the A1 nr Rutland has left Police asking for witnesses to come forward. The 27 yr old driver from Reading died and the front passenger seriously injured.
  • Roadworks continue in South Road, Bourne near the junction with Great Northern Gardens, which is expected to be closed for 1 day on 13/12/15
  • A 59 yr old male from Deeping St James pleaded guilty to drink driving in Thurlby – disqualified from driving for 40 months, fined £675
  • Bourges Boulevard in Peterborough, nr the voluntary fire brigade, was partially blocked on Monday causing heavy congestion, due to blocks of ice had fallen off a lorry.
  • A 71 yr old male from Folkingham was found guilty of driving otherwise in accordance with a licence, and defective tyres. Fined £569 and 3 points added to driving licence.
  • An elderly lady suffered injury after a 2 vehicle accident on Monday night at Spittalgate Level on the B1174, Grantham.
  • A 43 yr old male from Billingborough was found guilty of failing to provide information relating to the driver of a vehicle involved in an offence and was fined £961 and had 6 points added to his driving licence.
  • Despite Ancaster being one of the first villages to pilot the Community Speed Watch and receive the speeding equipment for the ‘Gateway Scheme’, residents have started a petition calling for further enforcement and road safety measures such is their complaint of speeding motorists through the village.
  • A 24 yr old male from Wisbech has been convicted of drink driving after being found to be 3 x over the legal limit. He had only lost his driving licence 2 days previously after being found guilty of the same offence. Driving ban for 3 yrs, car seized, 6 week prison sentence, £260 fine.
  • 300 bikers rode into Grantham for the Christmas Bikers’ Toy Run to deliver toys for need children.
  • Police in Lincolnshire have joined up with E.Midlands, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire Police Forces to enforce a campaign against drunk and drugged motorists.
  • BIG TOM Driving School in Bourne was only affected with 1 cancelled driving test this week (Saturday). The other test for the driving school was on Tuesday and was undertaken due to no strike action that day. Driving Examiners across the country are striking and applying a work to rule after what are considered to be unreasonable demands from their employer the DVSA.

BIG TOM Driving School in Bourne   Bookings: 01778 309773


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Looking for driving lessons in Bourne?

This blog is primarily aimed for the good people of Bourne who I am sensing are looking for some answers about everything concerned with driving lessons in Bourne. There is much change going on in the industry, take a minute to read this blog and you will be more informed and aware of the significant changes going on.

The amount of people taking driving lessons in Bourne has sky rocketed. You need look no further than the BIG TOM blog describing the annual Y12 road safety talk at Bourne Grammar School that Tom Ingram from BIG TOM Driving School presents.   It reported the number of Yr 12 pupils at Bourne Grammar School who expressed a desire for driving lessons in Bourne in September 2015 to be nearly 100% compared to the number in September 2014 that was less than 50%. In a nutshell, this is what is happening across the whole of the UK, and there are of course consequences.

BIG TOM Driving School is in the middle of a recruitment campaign for Driving Instructors in an attempt to satisfy the demand. Not only are there not enough Driving Instructors but as has been recently mentioned on the BIG TOM blog, the DVSA do not have enough Driving Examiners in test centres across the UK to satisfy the demand. As such, we have these waiting times for driving tests of typically 8-12 weeks but can be longer. One of the consequences of this situation is that should a pupil fail a driving test, there can be issues relating to the delay incurred for another test and also the availability of a Driving Instructor to give more lessons. Long gone are the days when a test fail can be just dismissed with a sigh but not to worry, and just book another one. If ever there were a time to be focussed to pass the driving test on the first attempt, this is it, and of course, having knowledge of that fact, in itself, does little to relieve nerves on test day. The latest DVSA statistics are telling the industry that only 21% of candidates taking the driving test nationally are passing it first time. So concerned are the DVSA with this fact, and the further pressures it brings on a booking system that is already creaking, that they are proposing to incentivize candidates to pass the test first time by providing an amount of cash back (not known at this stage how much of the £62 test fee), should the candidate be successful on the first attempt.

In our experience, this cash back will have little consequence to the situation we are in. There is a deep seated culture of inactivity in the driving industry that is primarily due to any Government being unwilling to bring about change for good due to there being an amount of “pain” associated with that change that would be most unwelcome by the voting public. In the UK we are using the same basic principle of how we all learn to drive and get tested that has been used for decades, and it simply is not fit for purpose. It works on the premise that a young adult once reaching a certain age, automatically has the right to learn to drive, regardless of attitude to road safety, in any manner that s/he chooses, with or without the assistance of a professional Driving Instructor, and then go to test at a time that suits them. Due to the fact that since 2007 driving test numbers had been in a steady decline, there had never been a shortage of Driving Instructors eager to attempt to get some of that dwindling business even if it was with £9 driving lessons, and so the de-valuing of the industry has been fed throughout for many years now. That drip drip feed of intransigence on the part of Government has consequences. Parents are one of the primary role models for pupils, and parents are, through no fault of their own, basing their opinions of learning to drive on a process that was in place when they took their tests. Coupled with that, as unfortunate a fact as it might be, many qualified drivers driving around on UK streets these days simply would not pass a current day driving test – which has as much to do with lack of law enforcement as it does with re-education.

Evidence being gathered globally is tending to indicate that there is much to be gained by starting road safety education earlier in a young person’s life. The old model of teaching a person how to drive purely through rote and repetition is limited in its long term effectiveness; 20% of newly qualified drivers are having an accident within the first 250 miles of driving post driving test. Car insurance providers are often quoting premiums to young drivers that are more expensive than the car being insured. All the evidence is suggesting that the process for learning to drive is not stringent enough to provide outcomes that are fit for purpose. The DVSA are attempting to lay blame for this situation with Driving Instructors, by wanting to introduce a traffic light grading system of Driving Instructors for the public to see. The implication being that pupils are not being trained well enough for life-long safe driving, and this traffic light grading system would include the pass rates of that Driving Instructor. It is being fiercely resisted by Driving Instructors up and down the country (even if not by the NASP who are a collection of the main Driving Instructor associations and liase with the DVSA supposedly representing the opinion of their members). The reason why it is being fiercely resisted is because by introducing this measure, the DVSA are holding Driving Instructors to account for the performance of driving test pass rates without providing the autonomy that enables them to affect the outcome. If this proposal was to come in to force, we would have Driving Instructors as nervous as candidates on test day, such is the prospect of a test fail dropping them from a green light to an amber alert. Ultimately, pupils (or perhaps more accurately, their parents) have always had the opportunity to freely change Driving Instructors, without hardship, if they feel a Driving Instructor is unnecessarily preventing the pupil going to test – more than that though, they have always had the opportunity to remove the Driving Instructor from the assessment process completely, and take the driving test in their own car.

At BIG TOM Driving School our FIRST TIME pass rate in 2015 for customers on our intensive driving courses is 64% – well above the national figure of 21% but arguably still too low. The FIRST TIME pass rate for our customers doing traditional pay as you go lessons in 2015 is currently 81.25%. Who is to say how these first time pass rates would be graded on a traffic light system by the DVSA but consider the following real-life situation that Driving Instructors up and down the country will be able to associate with. A pupil of 17 coming from an affluent family background, having had a vehicle bought for them sitting on the drive, and having the fortunate opportunity to do plenty of hours practise with parents before, during and after completing a BIG TOM 40 hour intensive driving course keeps failing mock tests. However, there is an increasing expectation on the pupils shoulders to get to the driving test sooner rather than later. The pupil goes to test and fails for not checking the blind spot before moving off. No part of the driving test that involved the car actually moving was sub-standard to the requirements of the driving test. The ONLY reason for failing the driving test, was the repeated lack of blind spot checks prior to moving off from a stationary position. Herein lies the problem. What the DVSA are failing to take into account is the expectations of the pupil and their parents. BIG TOM Driving School is successful because it likes to respond to the desires of our customers. The standard of mock test provided by BIG TOM Driving School is extremely close to that of the driving test standard, in terms of both the way it is conducted and the way any faults are assessed. This is achieved because it has always been the policy to observe a driving test if our customer has no objections to it; as such over 95% of driving tests conducted with BIG TOM Driving School pupils have been personally observed by Tom Ingram. But, as can be seen above, if pupils or pupils parents fail to value the judgement of that assessment of a mock test, then as they are the customer, and as long as safety is not compromised, BIG TOM will respect the wishes of the customer (BIG TOM Driving School has not had a single accident since it was established in 2009 – we do not take risk assessment lightly). In all the time of following this criteria, only once has a customer failed a BIG TOM mock test, insisted on going to test, and passed the driving test (this was in fact a customer from Bourne). In all other occasions, a failed mock test(s) prior to taking the actual driving test has resulted in a failed driving test – it is a very reliable measure. The point is, the service that is being provided there is not valued, there is a greater desire to ignore the professional advice and take a test, than there is to heed the warning.

In addition to this, as previously reported in this BIG TOM blog, there is a pilot scheme running now for adaptions to the current driving test. Early signs show that there is an increase in pass rate of the region of 10% for the new driving test. But, there is no evidence surfacing as yet that pupils who are more frequently passing this new driving test have been the recipient of any driving training from a higher qualified Driving Instructor, or received additional hours training that can logically justify this increase in pass rate. At a recent CPD event attended by the author, the Deputy National Chairman of the MSA described in his presentation regarding the recruitment of candidates for this pilot, that the new driving test they would be undertaking specifically did not require any higher level of competence than the existing driving test. So it seems that we have a new driving test that is provided by the same calibre of Driving Instructor, is technically of no greater difficulty than the existing driving test, apparently takes no longer to train for, and yet it is resulting in a 10% increase in the pass rate. One has to question what message that is giving the public and professional Driving Instructors about raising driving standards in the UK.

It is far from clear cut. There are many factors that are affecting what is happening out there at the moment, but the intention of this blog is to raise the awareness of customers and potential customers of BIG TOM Driving School as to the major influencers affecting good quality driving training. If there are any questions from concerned parents or pupils, please feel free to email Tom on

BIG TOM Driving School     Intensive Driving Course in Bourne Tel: 01778 309773


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Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough Roundabout Signs

On our Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough (01733 306016), our pupils will come across literally dozens of roundabouts of varying size and shape. One of the main reasons why some people struggle to deal with roundabouts effectively is because they are unable to imagine, visualise in their head what is going to happen as they approach the roundabout. This blog will introduce the importance of taking note of what roundabout signs actually tell us as drivers.


Take a look at the following roundabout sign. Whilst you are very likely to come across these on your Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough, they most certainly will not be covered on any driving test. Imagine you have passed your test, and you see these two signs:






Now take a look at this roundabout sign.







Let’s just take a minute to actually notice the information that is on those signs, because although this might come as a surprise, these 2 signs are on the same approach of the same roundabout in Peterborough.

  • The top sign has the roundabout placed higher up on the sign, so that it enables all the destinations to be listed down the left hand side
  • The top sign has no destinations listed for the exits at the top of the sign. When you see 2 roundabout signs on approach to the same roundabout, the first one will have major destinations listed eg London, Northampton, the second one will have local destinations listed. As such, there is seldom any repeating of destinations between the 2 signs. On some roads, the background colour of the roundabout signs differ depending on which type of destinations they have listed. You will see plenty of examples on your intensive driving course in Peterborough of the first, major destinations roundabout sign being green, and the more local destinations roundabout sign that comes after having a white background colour.
  • The actual round, roundabout symbol is not a full circle. This is intended to reflect the fact that you can’t drive right as you come on to the roundabout. Remember there are many non-UK drivers on our roads, and some might need reminding which way they travel round a roundabout.
  • The number 2 in the corner relates to the junction number on the dual-carraigeway, and these junction numbers can be seen on maps and sat navs.
  • You will be approaching this roundabout from the 6 o/c position (on a clock face). Don’t assume this is always the case, whilst it often is, pay attention to where the broken link is, as that is an indication of the position you are approaching the roundabout at. There is an example in Peterborough where the sign indicates that you are approaching the roundabout at the 3 o/c position, not the traditional 6 o/c position – again, don’t worry, you will have plenty of opportunity to see all of this on your intensive driving course in Peterborough.
  • The long wide black lines with arrow heads at the end are exits off of the roundabout, the shorter, stubby black lines with no arrow heads are entry points on to the roundabout. If you see thin black lines with no arrow heads, it can be because the exit leads to a dead end, it can also be that the exit is for a destination that is not intended to be shown on that particular roundabout sign eg the top roundabout sign has short black lines at 11 o/c and 1 o/c as the exits are for local destinations and not intended for that sign.
  • Notice the different colours denoting different class of roads and local places of interest/tourist attractions
  • Notice that if you were unfamiliar with this roundabout, you would have no idea how many exit lanes there are for each of the exits shown.

Now take a look at this roundabout sign in Peterborough:







There a couple of things to note about this sign:

  • The sign is showing that the 2 roundabouts (in this case mini-roundabouts), are very close together. No sooner have you exited the first roundabout when you are then approaching the second roundabout. This can be quite an important point, because as is the case in this example, if driving to Leicester, you would do well to approach the first roundabout in the right hand lane, so that you exit it in the right hand lane and approach the second in the right hand lane. Fail to do get in the correct lane on the approach to the first, and you will have some awkward manoeuvring to do between the two roundabouts which in real terms is no more than 20 metres of distance.
  • Notice the roundabout at the bottom actually only has 2 exits available as you approach it. Either straight over, first exit, or all the way round and going back the way you come (a manoeuvre that the Highway Code advises you try to avoid on mini-roundabouts as it can surprise other road users). You see the short stubby black line at 3 o/c has a no entry sign, that is because it is an entry to the roundabout, not an exit. This is the same point made in the first example, except in this case, they have included a “no entry” sign to emphasise the fact that you must not drive in to that entry point. I have actually seen an elderly male driver do precisely that, thankfully, without causing an accident on that occasion. Check out my weekly motoring news blog HERE where you might be very surprised to see what some drivers do actually do. You will see for example an elderly lady recently drove on to a 2 laned dual carriageway in Peterborough and immediately turned right against the flow of traffic. It was sadly the last mistake she made in her life, as she died in the collision that followed and hospitalised a lady driver in her 40’s from Werrington.

I hope this blog has helped to explain the importance of spotting roundabout signs on the approach, and giving yourself enough time on the approach to identify which number exit you will be needing, so that you can then visualise how it will be going as you drive round. Remember that whilst I am referring to roundabouts in Peterborough here as this a blog to help my customers on my Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, the real aim is for you to be able to decode these roundabout signs anywhere in the country. With that in mind, check out this video here from my popular YouTube driving channel HERE. This video is good because it’s a quiz for you to have a go at, and is using a handful of real roundabout examples in Peterborough, Spalding and Grantham. It is encouraging you to not only think about effectively reading roundabout signs but also mentions about lane markings and indicator signals.


BIG TOM Driving School     Intensive Driving Course in Peterborough Tel: 01733 306016


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