Monthly Archives: April 2016

5 Day Intensive Driving Course for Older Learners

Learning to drive is a highly personal action for anyone to take, and there can be many reasons why you have delayed it. The BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course has many features that offers you solutions to the obstacles that have been holding you back. This blog will help you find the key to unlock this particular box in your life that will lead to independence, freedom and new job opportunities.

Our world is fast moving, opportunities come and before you know it, go. It is so easy to put off activities like “learning to drive” because frankly, there is quite enough other stuff going on. As a result, you get to 25, 30, 35 years of age and you start getting the feeling that you may have left it too late. Do not lose heart, your timing may be better than you think!

The BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course is designed for people like you. It offers automatic discounts for over 25’s. Where it really helps is that it has the flexibility to fit in to your busy schedule with choices of start times and pick up points. Also, the process is not prolonged with 1 hour driving lessons that delay the obtaining of your full driving licence. You will see with our Customer Reviews how we have helped busy professionals working in hospitals, engineering companies, and even retired people (believe me when I say you have not left this too late). The life experiences that you have will also assist you greatly on the course.

What will you do on the course? Our courses are aligned to your particular needs, we are all different, with varying degrees of previous driving experience, and so your course can be adjusted in line with your strengths and weaknesses. We know our customers want to pass their driving test first time, with as little fuss as possible. We also know that you want to feel comfortable and confident to drive once you have passed your driving test; our intensive driving courses will include a very wide range of driving conditions and locations.

There are a number of features to our 5 Day Intensive Course that make the experience with us unique, interesting and enjoyable. At the centre of all our efforts is you. Our Driving Instructors fully embrace a learning environment that is pupil-centred: they will encourage you to set goals, reflect on experiences, practise within safe locations, recognise your good driving and identify areas for improvement. Confidence is key when learning to drive. The ethos of the driving school is to “Drive more, to experience more, to learn more”. You will be building layers of experience that help you to recognise what affects driving performance and how to prepare for safe driving after you pass your driving test.

If you would like the rewarding experience of attending our popular 5 Day Intensive Driving Course, do not delay any longer, contact us: or call FREE (including mobiles) 0800 689 4174

We cover Lincoln, Peterborough, Grantham, Spalding, Stamford, Bourne, Boston.


Read more →


Why Did I Do That On My Driving Test?

Judgement blog

If you have been unfortunate on your driving test and find yourself asking the above question, fear not, you are by no means alone.  This blog will shine a spotlight on why many end up asking this question after doing a certain action on the driving test.


I have highlighted in the image of a driving test examiners sheet, the common faults that occur on a driving test that I call “brain faults”.  I’m talking here about driving too closely to a vehicle in front of you or when passing a parked vehicle, going on to a roundabout when there wasn’t enough time, turning right on a crossroads when there was an oncoming vehicle that had priority over you, getting flustered about which lane you are supposed to be in, drifting left or right on a roundabout that affects others, continuing on the gas when really you should have given way to an oncoming vehicle,  driving through an amber or even red traffic light.  All the kind of things that you know, you just know, you shouldn’t do, but for some reason, today of all days, that is precisely what you did!

In high stress situations like driving tests, job interviews, high level presentations, first dates, sales deals and the like, the heart beats quicker than normal, adrenalin is running high, sensory impulses can be heightened or dulled, limbs on the body can start to move oddly, the stomach can feel tight or nauseous, the mouth dries up, the eyes don’t blink, we don’t breathe deeply, muscles tense, we fidget, we inadvertently say what we are thinking, we forget our manners, we either talk too much or don’t say a thing, we stay rigid, we sweat, we feel hunger, we bite our nails, we need the toilet and let’s not forget the biggy, our brain becomes cloudy, dull, heavy, unresponsive and confused.  Our inner voice starts to question anything and everything we do to the point of making the body either freeze or spark into spontaneous and uncontrolled action.  We doubt our actions, we perceive all our decisions as being highly dubious, we find ourselves being in a state of inactivity where we suddenly recognise that we kind of lost our way for a moment and time stood still for a few seconds.  Any of this sound or feel familiar?

We are all human, we respond to stimuli, emotions can run high.  For sure, some of us are better at handling these situations than others; that does not include me by the way, I’m positively in the “shaky leg” category.

We know what we should do, but for some reason we just don’t do it, instead we fall victim to this strange person who has suddenly taken over our bodily functions.  It is most upsetting, frustrating, confidence sapping, and foot stompingly annoying!

There will not be too many people reading this blog, who cannot relate to how this all feels.  And that’s one of the big points to acknowledge, this is not necessarily about lack of competence or knowledge, it is often more to do with how we are feeling right then, right when it is all about to start.  Because how you feel, is very personal.  Yes you can have the radio on when the driving test is happening because you hate long silences, yes you can have the air conditioning on as you are getting hot and flustered, yes speak to yourself or the car while driving – the examiner will not mind, yes have that cigarette or that burger or that toilet break or that herbal calmer; it is all about coping mechanisms.    In much the same way that you often had to dig deep and find solutions to the many obstacles that were discovered when you learnt to drive, equally, you need to manage, handle, cope, endure the driving test assessment to maximise your performance too.

But don’t think you are alone, stupid, pathetic, incapable, and wasting the examiners time.  The driving test is actually your time, it is an opportunity, you may fail, but failing is an opportunity to improve.  It is the experience that you have earned the right to participate in, it is empowering, when that feeling of disappointment fades, you just wait and see what happens next – you may well surprise yourself.  I am talking resilience, perseverance, patience, focus, determination and courage.  Success does not come to everyone instantly, what makes success sweet is the path you inwardly take to achieve it, and it is you who treads that path, one step at a time….. just you.

Tom Ingram is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School.  5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Lincoln, Peterborough, Grantham, Stamford, Spalding, Boston and Bourne.



Read more →


Patrick from Bourne Passes Test with BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course

See here how Patrick got his full driving licence just 2 days after completing his BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course (0800 689 4174)

It was not the most pleasant of mornings to be taking a test, the rain was falling hard; but that did not stop Patrick Bishell from Bourne passing his driving test on his first attempt.  On his BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course in Bourne, he managed to cover quite some ground.  He had great experience driving round Peterborough, Bourne, on the A1, Stamford, Boston, Elton and Warmington. 

Patrick says to any readers “Would definitely recommend this course to others learning to drive! Learned so much on the course and was really enjoyable”.

On Day 5 of his Intensive Driving Course he completed the very interesting Assessment Drive which is a carefully selected route that BIG TOM has been using for many years.  Tom who is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School says about the Assessment Drive:

“You should not under-estimate how powerful it is for a driver to be driving round in a wide variety of driving conditions that they have absolutely no previous experience of being on, let alone driving on.  This has proven to be over the years, very effective in allowing our pupils to judge how they are getting on; it can do wonders for the confidence.  Whilst there is no doubt that it is tough and challenging drive, it has got nothing to do with the driving test at all, and everything to do with assisting our pupils recognise how well they are getting on with their independent driving”.

The actual routes BIG TOM use for their Assessment Drives is a closely guarded secret, but all pupils who get the opportunity to drive them, Patrick included, get a great deal from the experience.

Patrick then went on to try out one of the BIG TOM Mock Tests.  Because BIG TOM Driving Instructors observe the vast majority of their customers driving tests, the standard of the mock tests is very closely aligned to what will actually happen on the day of the driving test; the way it is conducted, the marking of it, the duration and general “feel” of the mock test are very similar indeed to the real thing.  As Patrick was able to appreciate when he then passed his actual test, the mock really did enable him to get properly prepared, mentally, for what was coming his way.

His Mother went on to feedback to us: “We were very impressed with how completely at ease he felt with you which I am sure contributed to being able to learn so quickly and we would definitely recommend your driving course to anyone.”


Well done Patrick – a job well done, and a great result from your Intensive Driving Course in Bourne.


Read more →


How well can you drive?

This blog looks at this question of how well you can drive, and explores how the manner in which you answer the question can have profound consequences for the journey that you will take on your path of learning to drive. Let’s take a deeper look at what we all can learn from the simple question of “How well can you drive?”

Part of the problem with this kind of question is that it can be interpreted in different ways, and it can be answered with different meaning as well. If you happen to be a Learner who is absolutely desperate to take a driving test then you may answer this question with positivity, confidence and assertiveness, such is your eagerness to get your full driving licence. However, a newly qualified driver who actually never did get the hang of doing a bay park in a car park, might actually be pretty disappointed with their driving ability as this problem with parking is affecting them every day.

We all have our own perspective, we might be judging it against different criteria. For example, a Learner might consider less than 5 stalls in an hour driving lesson is great progress, an experienced driver of 20 years might be comparing their driving to an advanced driving organisations qualification.

How we invite our pupils on the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course to assess how well they are doing is actually, no small matter. We will make sure that we spend time and effort to properly develop an honest, trusting and respectful relationship with our pupil, this is time well spent, because it is internationally recognised that an effective learning environment is one in which the pupil is at the heart of it, and feels confident and empowered to “own” their learning process. Contrast that approach with one in which a 17 year old pupil has only ever experienced a learning environment at school where they have been conditioned to submit some academic work, get told where it is lacking, and then make adjustments and re-submit it, and keep doing that until eventually they will accept it. This is a simple example of how our life experiences will influence how we behave, how receptive we are to self-awareness, and how much we will be inclined to take responsibility for the learning process. Being a safe, competent and confident driver bears little resemblance to academic qualifications and their examinations, but if that is all a pupil has experienced so far in life, then who can blame them for treating the two similarly?

A key element of this exchange between our pupils and Driving Instructors is keeping discussions honest, objective, positive and meaningful. Rather than the traditional approach that many parents will have experienced 20-30 years ago when they learnt to drive, which involved the Driving Instructor leading the discussions, often negative in nature about driving faults the pupil has committed, instead, on the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course, we encourage our pupils to focus on the positive outcomes, experiencing a feeling of achievement and then building on that feeling to produce confidence, successful outcomes and a true sense of progressing towards the goal of becoming a competent driver who can handle driving independently on the roads.

So to summarise, this blog has dug a bit deeper into the question of how any Learner is able to assess how well they are driving. It recognises the fact that by nature, we are all individuals with different outlooks on life, and importantly have had different experiences of learning environments. But ultimately, what we attempt to provide on our intensive driving courses is a learning environment that our pupils are comfortable in and enjoy, where they feel respected, and can openly identify their strengths and weaknesses so that they feel like they are aware of how they can cope with the many challenges that will arise after they have earned their full driving licence.

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in all areas that use Grantham, Lincoln, Boston and Peterborough Driving Test Centres.   Telephone: 0800 689 4174


Read more →


Learning with BIG TOM Driving Videos

The BIG TOM driving videos offer Learners the opportunity to learn even when not physically in the driving school car. This offers a fabulous opportunity to maximise the learning, save time and ultimately to save money by getting as much value as possible. This blog will demonstrate how this can be achieved.

The following exchange can be seen in the comment section of the BIG TOM Driving Video “Moving off, pulling over on driving lessons.

“Hello I have a question regarding pulling over on the side, if I’m in 3rd gear and I wanted to pull over to the left can I still use the handbrake then neutral method? Because at times I do stall when I do this, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m too slow in pulling up however, any help would really be appreciated, thank you!

Morning.  Yes that handbrake neutral signal technique is still valid no matter what gear you pull over in.  What tends to happen is that if you are pulling over in a higher gear, let’s say third as in your example, then what it ultimately means is that you would need to put the clutch down SOONER than if you were in 2nd gear, and that is purely because in the higher gear, the car wants to maintain a speed that accommodates that gear.  So, clutch down, feather the brakes to a controlled stop, parallel to the kerb, about a foot away and with attention as to where you are literally stopping (so as not to inconvenience others), THEN, once the car is at a complete stop – handbrake, neutral (in this case, from 3rd gear) and then turn the signal off if you had put it on.  So, to answer your question directly, I suspect that you are leaving the putting down of the clutch pedal too late for the third gear, you need to put it down sooner than if you were in 2nd.  If you want to see this in a practical demonstration, find a very quiet road, and practise stopping the car in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear (forget about the kerb, find a road where you can stop and it wont affect anyone).  Try to sense and notice when the car is needing you to put the clutch down for each gear and literally what speed you are at.  You should see with practise that in 1st gear the car can be almost at a stop before it needs you to put the clutch down to prevent a stall, whereas in 3rd gear, the car will be needing you to put that clutch down much sooner to prevent a stall.  Give it a go!  Let me know how you get on…. and thanks for your question, it’s a good question….. tom

Perfect thank you so much! So what I’d have to do is put the clutch down much sooner and brake a little too and then use the original handbrake neutral method? Thank you again and your videos are really helpful! 🙂

Yes that is correct.  We need to be mindful that we are not putting the clutch down far too early but yes when it comes to comparing the timing of the clutch with different gears, it will need to be sooner for the higher gears.  Do remember for example, that if you are pulling over while travelling on a road that is downhill, the moment you put that clutch down, potentially, that can make the car gather speed due to gravity, so this would need to be controlled by active use of the brake as you mention above, to prevent the car from getting faster.  I’m pleased to hear that you are getting something out of the videos, and it’s a credit to you that you are asking away with questions – that’s all good stuff…. tom

Brilliant thank you once again I will try this out and hopefully it goes well :), also does depressing the clutch early help to slow the car down quicker hence why we have to use this method when we’re in 3rd gear (or above)?

No, this is quite a common mis-conception.  We put the clutch down to either prevent it from stalling when we come to a stop (or travel extremely slowly), or when we intend to change gear.  The only way that you can relate putting the clutch down with slowing the car, is that by putting the clutch down you disconnect the engine power from the wheels – there is literally nothing then motoring the wheels forward any more.  So on a flat road, eventually, eventually…. the car will run out of steam with the clutch down as nothing is actually propelling it forward any more.  But, if you were going downhill, gravity will propel forward!  A little demonstration that illustrates this point perfectly – find a quiet flat road, get up to say 30 mph in 3rd gear and take your foot off the gas and count in your head how many seconds it takes to get to 10mph.  Then, get up to 30 mph in 3rd gear on the same flat road, come off the gas and put the clutch all the way down, then count how long it takes to get down to 10mph.  You should find that it takes LONGER to slow down to 10 mph when you put the clutch down, the exact opposite of what you are asking me in your last question.  When you take your foot off the gas but remain in gear (don’t put the clutch down), what happens, that slowing effect, is called “engine braking” – we use that to very good effect in a number of situations when driving.  But my whole point to you is NOT to associate putting the clutch down with slowing of the car – not the case.  It is the pressing down of the brake pedal that slows the car down, not the putting down of the clutch.  Hope that makes sense?

That makes so much more sense now that you’ve explained it to me! I can’t thank you enough :)”

This particular exchange was within a 24 hour period with a Learner who is not a BIG TOM customer, so could be anywhere in the UK or perhaps even outside the UK. It goes to show that there is still the opportunity to learn even if you are not booked up to attend the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course. You can see for yourself how valuable this exchange was to this person, and that could be you!

In addition to this, BIG TOM provides all of their customers access to private driving videos that are of longer duration and go into greater detail on subjects such as

How to achieve mini-goals and how that relates to your driving test

Adverse weather and how to prepare journeys

Why pressing the clutch pedal down does NOT necessarily slow the car down

Mirrors – why do them, when to do them and how

Finding a solution of how to reverse parallel park

Over 40 driving clips of approaching and navigating around Peterborough roundabouts

How emotions affect your ability to drive

What happens when the DVSA cancel driving tests

What are the key ingredients for good manoeuvres

Why approaching roundabouts at the correct speed and gear is important

How night time driving affects you

Preparing for your BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course

The DVSA National Driving Standard and what that means to you

Using signs and road markings to help plan roundabouts using Asda roundabout in Grantham as an example

How accurate is the BIG TOM mock test

What are the key factors in assessing roundabouts and why that is important

The marking sheet that Examiners will use on your driving test

How other drivers behaviour affects your attitude to learning to drive.

BIG TOM Driving School publicly displays our Customer Charter and under the heading of Customer Relations is the following:

“Our goal is to maximise the working relationship with our customers to offer excellent quality and value tuition”

Engaging in our driving videos is just one opportunity provided to our customers that shows our commitment to going one step further with customer service beyond the majority of driving schools. We offer our customers a learning environment that can be as personalised as they want it to be, and as can be seen in the exchange above, the learning can continue even in the comfort of your own home.

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses for Learners who use Peterborough, Grantham, Boston, and Lincoln Driving Test Centres CALL NOW! 0800 689 4174 or


Read more →