Monthly Archives: June 2016

How to prepare for learning to drive

One fabulous tip for knowing how to prepare for learning to drive is provided in this helpful BIG TOM blog.

As it states in the BIG TOM Customer Charter, customers are rewarded for their loyalty, and have just taken up not one but two opportunities to have free driving sessions.  Yes, completely free!

Lizzie and Sam seen here were keen to make full use of the opportunity – and why not! These sessions are available to all BIG TOM customers.

Lizzie who has her BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course later in the year and was grateful to experience how to prepare for learning to drive with BIG TOM said:

“I would highly recommend taking these driving sessions with BIG TOM.  It is an excellent chance to meet/see other learners driving and ask questions in a comfortable, casual scenario.  Thank you!”

Sam who has her driving test in just a few days time said:

“I found the free session really useful.  I got more driving experience under my belt and my confidence really improved with my roundabouts.  It was good to see Lizzie drive too.  Fab session, no pressure to do things that you don’t want to do”

The first free session was from 9am – 3pm earlier this week, and the other session was available later in the week from 3pm – 9pm.  These range of timings are offered deliberately so as to cater for busy customers with heavy schedules.

Tom Ingram who is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School said:

“These sessions are always great fun, as they enable BIG TOM customers to meet up, swap stories about their experiences, learn from each other, and we always make sure that they are provided with a free refreshment within the session, courtesy of the driving school.  It is just one more way that the driving school provides added value to its customers.”


BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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Performance Measures to June 2016

This blog demonstrates the BIG TOM Driving School goal of raising standards

Tom Ingram who is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School says:

“These latest performance measures are very pleasing to see.  In these times of waiting lists for driving tests across the UK being in the order of 8-12 weeks and sometimes more, to see that just over 50% of BIG TOM customers are passing their driving test within only 5 weeks of attending our courses is a credit to the driving school.  It really does very clearly demonstrate that my driving school can consistently deliver to BIG TOM customers the full driving licences they desire so they can get on with the demands and pressures of modern day living – and this can be achieved within timescales that significantly out-perform the traditional ‘pay as you go’ method of learning to drive.”


“Did the driving course/booking process meet your expectations?”

More than expected (or above)     100%


“How well did we understand and provide for your personal needs?”

Better than expected (or above)    80%


Passed driving test by Day 5 of BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course:    38%


Passed driving test within 5 weeks of BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course    51%


Samples of free written feedback:

“Progress is very well measured, you always know what you need to work on and what your strengths are”

“Very swift return of calls and emails.  Answering all questions”

“Very relaxed, no pressure and never felt pushed or rushed if I didn’t feel confident or comfortable”

“Very fast replies!”


One of the key performance measures that BIG TOM Driving School monitors is the length of time from a customer attending a BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course to passing their driving test.  Various other aspects of the customer experience are also continually monitored from customers.  This demonstrates the organisations desire to continually raise standards with the review of the half yearly results.

For further information relating to standards within BIG TOM Driving School refer to the BIG TOM   Customer Charter

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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Intensive Driving Course v Traditional Route

This blog will assist any reader who is confused about how to go about learning to drive

BIG TOM Driving School takes a positive stance on open channels of communication with pupils and parents.  Here is one example that was received very recently by a concerned Mother:

“My enquiry is regarding my daughter who is 17, she has never driven and I would like to ask if there are any figures that support someone passing quicker with your intensive driving course as opposed to the traditional route?
Many thanks, Joanne”

If this Mother’s daughter ends up taking 30 hours of in-car driving training before she feels a confident independent driver, and goes on to pass the driving test, then the question could be, “Can my daughter receive 30 hours of driving training quicker with you than with the traditional route?”.  The answer is undoubtedly “Yes”.

But is that REALLY the question that is being asked?  Is the actual question that is being asked the following:

“Is there any evidence to support that my daughter can pass her driving test on Day 5 of your intensive driving course?”

A completely different question.  What that question is doing is asking what is the probability of a pre-defined outcome on Day 5 (namely, this Mother’s daughter being ready to take her driving test) within a set number of hours driving training.

Pupils enter into driving training on the BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course at a variety of “starting points”.  Some will have never sat in a drivers seat before, some will have done 20 hours of driving experience before, some might have had 2 unsuccessful attempts at the driving test.  It is illogical to expect that every single pupil is going to progress to precisely the same driving ability after a set number of hours when their starting points are so varied.

A BIG TOM Driving School goal is to maximise the learning potential for every customer.  That is why BIG TOM driving videos are streamed into our customers on a regular basis to reinforce the in-car driving training.  It is also why our 1:1 driving training is supplemented with “pupil led” driving instruction, so that the training is adapted to suit the needs of each individual pupil – this develops a training environment that is enjoyable, interesting and encourages maximum progress.

Tom Ingram is the Owner of BIG TOM Driving School (est’d 2009), and he offers a word of caution:

“This is not as straight forward as it might at first appear.  There are some key factors that will affect the effectiveness of the learning process.  The driving instructor and pupil relationship, the methodology of teaching, the motivation of the pupil and the environment in which they learn – these are all very important, and for parents such as Joanne who ultimately is asking a question based around perceived quality and value, these factors are all very relevant”

A browse through the BIG TOM blog will help any reader build trust in the brand to see that it is entirely possible to pass the driving test on Day 5 of the BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course – even with no faults as Ollie did! But what distinguishes the service offered from others is that each pupil is delivered a high quality of driving training that is personal to their own needs.

Within the discussion with Joanne, it was discovered that whilst the learning environment and perceived value were factors that she was considering, by far the greatest single consideration was that she wanted her daughter to be a safe, confident driver who could handle driving around on her own, after her driving test was passed.  BIG TOM Driving School shares this goal, and has integrated an assessment module within the course that has one eye monitoring the standard of driving to pass the driving test, and the other eye is ensuring that our customer actually feels confident in their driving ability.


For further information relating to the question “How quickly can a Learner learn to drive?

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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Zoe properly nails the driving test!

Zoe from Bourne passes her driving test with just 1 driving fault!

Read here about Zoe’s experience with BIG TOM 

Zoe Parry who is a very popular hairdresser in Bourne realised that she needed to get her driving licence fast as she works hard and has a little one at home that Zoe wants to take for days out.  She passed her driving test at Grantham with just 1 driving fault recorded – a very high standard of driving ability.

Zoe says of her experience with BIG TOM:

“As an older learner and parent, I felt it suited my needs more to do an intensive driving course.  After reading up on them, BIG TOM Driving School was the best choice for me.  It was an enjoyable, relaxed and friendly experience.  Very good teacher!”

Tom Ingram who is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School and was Zoe’s driving instructor on her 5 Day Intensive Driving Course said:

“Zoe has shown here how it is possible to overcome test day nerves.  She was awake at 3am last night with worry, and re-watched a BIG TOM Customer Update Video that had been sent out exclusively to all BIG TOM customers over the weekend.  Whilst no-one is pretending that you can learn to drive just from watching the videos, I have been doing this for long enough now to see a repeating pattern that shows a correlation between putting that bit of extra effort in when at home, to reinforce your driving training, and reaping the rewards for that effort as it improves your chances of successful outcomes when it comes to your driving test.  It continues to demonstrate to me, how you do not have to be physically sat in a driving school car to benefit from the raised awareness that the BIG TOM videos provide.  My congratulations go to Zoe for confronting her driving test nerves and getting the maximum benefit from her BIG TOM course.”

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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A Good Driving Test Omen

A well deserved driving test pass from Simon

Simon seen here with his driving test pass certificate may have been given a sign that good things were coming his way!

A local roofing company in Bourne, Sandalls, have invested in a member of staff to help improve the logistics for the organisation in what are very busy times for the successful company.  Employee Simon Sleight has now been given the green light to assist with the practical day to day transportation needs in the many Sandall’s vans that can be seen in and around Bourne. Simon who has just passed his driving test in Grantham said:

“It’s funny you know, I thought I’d lost my cat forever after not seeing him for 8 weeks, but he returned last night at 10pm at my home, and I did wonder if that was a good sign for my driving test the next day”.

Leaving nothing to chance though, he still put on his lucky Bourne Rugby Club top, just to make sure that he had covered all the bases!  But it was his driving ultimately that made his day, with just 5 driving faults recorded, he was really pleased with the standard of driving that he showed to the driving Examiner.

Tom Ingram who was his driving instructor at BIG TOM Driving School said:

“Big congratulations go to Simon for a very well deserved driving test pass.  And a mention should go to his employers too for investing in their employee by making use of a local driving school in Bourne.  I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight that despite the disappointment that was experienced earlier this week at Grantham Test Centre, this test pass clearly demonstrates to our customers that normal service has resumed and my driving school continues to provide successful life-changing positive outcomes for BIG TOM customers.”

Residents in locations such as Bourne, Stamford, Spalding and surrounding villages are reminded that BIG TOM offers customers a range of locations where they would like to take their driving test after completing the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course.

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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Appealing a driving test result

What is involved in appealing a driving test? Can the result be changed?

For the first time since BIG TOM Driving School was established back in 2009. the owner, Tom Ingram has had cause to make a complaint relating to the result of a driving test.  This blog will expand on the subject of appealing a driving test result.

Due to the increased recruitment of driving examiners by the DVSA there are many newly qualified examiners being observed by DVSA personnel across the UK.  The driving test that occurred today was one such example.  So in the driving school car was the pupil, the examiner, the observer of the examiner sat behind the driver, and the driving instructor of the pupil who was sat behind the examiner.

It was clear from the outset that the examiner was new; this was demonstrated in a variety of ways relating to how directional instructions are given, and on one occasion, when it was omitted altogether.  The independent drive section was longer than the allotted 8-12 minutes, and the driving test itself lasted for 50 minutes rather than the allotted 38-40 minutes.  These issues relating to the delivery of the instructions (given too late, wrong direction eg left instead of the intended right, not familiar with the locality), ultimately resulted in the pupil taking a route that was not as intended by the examiner.

But crucially, about two thirds round, whilst driving on a single-carraigeway road controlled by national maximum speed signs, the examiner quite suddenly and inexplicably grabbed hold of the top of the steering wheel whilst saying “Sorry” and pulled it to the left.  It was without doubt more dangerous an intervention than the alleged positional error in the lane itself. There had been a car coming in the other direction but the position of the driving school car presented no danger or safety concern at all, and the intervention was entirely unnecessary.

On return to the Test Centre, the examiner stated “I am very sorry to inform you that you have failed, but you know why” and handed the candidate a DL25 form that indicated there were 4 faults and the fault that resulted in the failing of the test was marked as “Dangerous” within the ‘Positioning – Normal Driving’ category.

Tom Ingram who had observed the test immediately requested to speak to the Test Centre Manager and the observer of the examiner then stated that would be him.  An appeal was lodged against the driving test result on the grounds that the action taken by the examiner was entirely unnecessary and actually created more of a hazard.

Within the hour, the observer of the examiner called back and stated that having spoken to the examiner it was agreed that the fault had been incorrectly assessed, and as a gesture of goodwill the test can be re-taken for free.  He went on to explain that his role was one of “Technical Support” where he is normally based in Derby, and his purpose of observing the examiner was in an exercise of Quality Assurance in the manner in which the test had been conducted.

When it was raised with him that this “gesture of goodwill” was lacking in sincerity given the fact that had that fault not been incorrectly assessed, it would have been a pass, AND that there is an incredible waiting list for driving tests at Grantham (the next test slot is 19/9/16…. more than 3 months wait), the response back was that the result cannot be changed, even by a court of law, and that was the best offer that could be provided.  No apology was made to the candidate, or the driving instructor, or the parents who are then £90 out of pocket, and indeed, no mention was made of any further corrective/remedial action being taken on the examiner concerned, who presumably continues to conduct driving tests.

Tom had the following to say about the incident:

“It’s regrettable that this has happened because although there is clear evidence, even admission of a systematic failure in the assessment process, the only offering given to my customer, who after all has just passed a driving test, is to take another one in the future.  I appreciate that new examiners will make errors, but when the consequences to errors of this magnitude affect peoples lives in the manner in which this is going to affect my customer and the prospects of him getting a new job, there really should be a better solution provided.  Even a formal apology from the examiner concerned would have gone a long way in calming my pupil who has every right to be totally frustrated.”

It does appear that even in a situation as clear cut as this, the process of appealing a driving test result is extremely limited indeed.  There is evidence in this example of a driving test that was poorly conducted in terms of instruction given and overall timing, and including an admission made of it being incorrectly assessed, and yet all that the candidate can do, at best, is expect a free re-test more than 3 months later.  It is simply not possible to change the result of a driving test, no matter how justified.

The candidate concerned is needing a driving licence in order to be eligible for an apprenticeship for a maintenance department within a school in Stamford.  A further 3 month delay will seriously jeopardize his chances of receiving that apprenticeship.

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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Ollie hits the target with a clean sheet!

Read here how Oliver Stephenson from Carlby has passed his driving test at Grantham on Day 5 of his BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course with no driving faults recorded!

Oliver’s parents booked up his BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course (0800 689 4174) and were very proud of him after discovering that he passed his driving test in Grantham with no driving faults committed.  “Money well spent” was the feedback from his Mother as she congratulated her son.

Oliver who is a very keen archer and trains across the UK to a high standard, needs the freedom and mobility that his full driving licence will bring him, so that he is not dependant on his parents to attend competitions. He said about his experience with BIG TOM Driving School:

“I started driving with Tom after I failed a test with another driving instructor. He build my confidence by giving me clear instruction on how to improve my driving. He used different techniques to show what to do. I found the mock tests we did really helpful and showed me exactly what the examiner would be looking for. Driving every day with Tom gave me much more experience than having a lesson weekly. Tom made everything easy by booking my initial test and then finding me a cancellation because he thought I was ready to take my test earlier. On day 5 I took my test and passed with no driver errors. I would definitely recommend Big Tom Driving School and wish I’d gone with Tom in the first place.”

Tom Ingram who is the owner of BIG TOM Driving School and assisted Oliver on his 5 day intensive driving course says:

“Full credit goes to Ollie for achieving such a high standard of driving and passing his test on the 5th day of his BIG TOM Intensive Driving Course.  I’m not surprised to hear how much value Ollie got from the BIG TOM mock test. What is particularly pleasing is that his mock test that he took the day before his test, also showed zero driving faults.  This demonstrates very clearly how accurate the BIG TOM driving assessment is aligned to the driving test standard.  It is incredibly important to our pupils to have the trust in the BIG TOM brand that what we are indicating to them in terms of their actual driving ability, is factual, and completely accurate.”

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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Better Driving Standards

Better driving standards, increased road safety, confident and capable drivers – these are all shared goals in the driving industry. But it is a complex marketplace, there are tensions between different parties involved and this blog seeks to shed some light on the situation.


“My driving instructor refused to let me do my test, so I binned her, and went to someone who would”

“I don’t honestly feel like I’m going to pass this driving test, I’m just not good enough yet”

“Driving instructors are meant to prepare their pupils for safe driving for life not just to pass a driving test”

“That driving instructor is way too expensive, I can get 10 lessons for £99”

“I thought the examiner was unfair, I don’t agree that I failed that driving test”

“That driving instructor’s pass rate is really low, I wouldn’t go with him if I were you”

“The recent decline in the standard of road safety statistics sits squarely with driving instructors who just take their customers to test too soon”

“As a driving instructor, you need to ask yourself, what part are you playing in ensuring driving standards are as high as possible?”

“You get what you pay for, you want cheap driving lessons, you will get cheap driving lessons”

“My driving instructor keeps banging on about how I need to develop my skills with more driving experience, all I want to do is pass my test”

“My parents keep telling me how easy the driving test was in those days, I’d like to see them pass this one”

“The latest DVSA released statistics confirm, once again, that with such appallingly low driving test pass rates, driving instructors are quite simply taking their customers to test too soon – it is as simple as that”

“I don’t feel I can win here, if I refuse to take him to test, he goes elsewhere, but I just know he is going to fail”

“I literally can’t afford for my son to have as many driving lessons as his driving instructor wants him to have – I will take him out myself after he has had a few with the instructor”

“I keep failing the test, my driving instructor is crap!”

“I’ve got £450 for my driving lessons, after that, I just can’t afford any more”

“My driving instructor says she is too busy, can I go to test with you please? My test is next Tuesday”

“I charge an hourly rate that enables me to provide a good quality service, I simply don’t do cheap driving lessons, this is young adults safety we are talking about here”

“I must pass my driving test by the end of the month, if I haven’t passed, I don’t get this new job”

“I’m not feeling very confident with my driving, but I literally can’t afford any more driving lessons”

“I’m just being constantly beaten down on my prices, if I don’t give them ‘a deal’ they just go somewhere else”

“As a DVSA examiner, if there was one piece of advice I would offer to all driving instructors out there, it would be to not bring your customers to test too soon – it’s not safe for them or us”

“I can drive, I only need a lesson or 2 before my driving test”


These are typical comments that are being made in public and private on a daily basis across the UK by parents, pupils, examiners, driving instructors, DVSA officials, and driving instructor trainers.


Complex….. yes?

We have a system in the UK where the public are able to take a driving test with as much or as little involvement of a professional driving instructor as they like. There is no “standard” that has to be achieved before anyone is eligible to take a driving test. No-one has to authorise a person to take a test and as such, we have this marketplace where consumers have complete freedom, and providers are entirely at their mercy. Some people who learn to drive will be on a tight budget, some will have limited amounts of learning as they think they already can drive, some are in such a rush that they limit the amount of training they have.

Attitudes to driving standards vary enormously. All of us see such a variety of driving ability out on the roads, it is hard not to be confused as to how some drivers did manage to pass their driving test. There will be drivers who are very conscientious about how well they drive and not adversely affect other road users, and yet there will be many who are literally unconsciously incompetent; they simply have no idea what effect they are having on others as they drive around on a daily basis.

With the continued decline of traffic police spanning several years, the mechanism of “enforcement” to ensure driving standards are maintained to a basic level is being eroded – some would argue that enforcement has been missing from public roads for quite some time already, and is having serious consequences to UK road safety.

And so we have this rather hazardous combination of questionable driving training standards where the views and goals of professional driving instructors are very often bypassed by the consumer, coupled with declining levels of road safety enforcement.

Bring on the driverless car!


BIG TOM Driving School provides Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Spalding, Stamford, Lincoln, Grantham, Boston, Sleaford and Bourne. Contact us HERE.


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