Monthly Archives: May 2017

Life changing driving test pass

Kyle Bennett from March passed his driving test this morning in Peterborough and recognises it is a life changer for him and his family.

Kyle (seen here with his new driving licence) started his BIG TOM 5 day intensive driving course on 22/5/17 and turned it all round in just 10 days..  Tom Ingram was his driving instructor and says of Kyle:

“What a great course this was for Kyle.  He really did embrace the idea of personalising his driving training to reflect his work needs (larger vehicles) as well as driving in his family car.  His journeys included Whittlesey, Marholm and Elton. This driving test pass that he has achieved today is a real life changing moment for him – it has massive positive implications in his life and I am so pleased for him.  It was a real pleasure to work with such a conscientious pupil towards road safety.”   

Kyle made particular use of the BIG TOM driving videos on roundabouts and recognised the value of them instantly.  It meant that he was able to be learning about the key skills of forward planning and assessment of hazards outside of the car.  BIG TOM wishes Kyle many years of safe driving at home and at work.


BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries:  Sales: 07756 071 464



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Context of driving

On the BIG TOM 5 Day Intensive Driving Course pupils are invited to make their driving experiences personal to them.  They have the opportunity to drive on journeys that are meaningful to their life, adding an element of context to the process of learning to drive. 

The reason why this is provided for pupils is because it enables them to develop the important skills of planning for journeys, considering risks that are associated with routes and how their own strengths and weaknesses affect the decision making process before they even set off on the journey. 

Being able to drive opens up a range of new opportunities and experiences that go far beyond the goal of “being able to drive”.  If a pupil is not afforded the opportunity to start considering these new options then this can have far reaching consequences once they obtain their driving licence. 

It is not uncommon to hear of qualified drivers taking routes that are very high risk due to their inability to assess risk.  Some people will continue to drive particular routes due to not having confidence in planning and assessing alternative routes.  The same can be said for over reliance on sat navs.  I have heard of drivers who have no concept at all about their direction of travel they are taking, and it is only when they eventually realise that they have put an incorrect location into the sat nav that they see they have gone many miles out of their way.  The planning required to deal with lane selection and safe navigation around accidents or road closures are vital when a sat nav is not aware of these incidents.

To practise considering the options regarding mode of transport, route selection, timing and where and when to rest are vital.  Sometimes in the work place you might be called upon to drive vehicles of different size, power, visibility and in-car technology; factors that can affect your safety (and others) when you come to drive the journey.

Drivers have a responsibility to ensure they are doing all they can to maximise road safety for everyone prior to a journey.  Planning a journey and considering the time to start so that driving conditions (weather, class of road, type of vehicle) are taken into account is a vital skill to develop and this is why you are encouraged to consider these factors on the BIG TOM intensive driving course.

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries:  Sales: 07756 071 464



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Intensive Driving Course Availability


The next BIG TOM weekday intensive driving course available slot for YOU is:
14/05/2018     £874

The next BIG TOM weekend intensive driving course available slot for YOU is:
05/05/2018    £1074


BIG TOM Driving School


Express Sales Line: 0800 689 4174



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Rural road driving experience

Owner of BIG TOM Driving School, Tom Ingram, takes time out from an intensive driving course in Sleaford with Ben Gibb to highlight one of the key advantages of the BIG TOM intensive driving course.

Ben lives in Ruskington and needs to learn to drive due to his work commitments.  He wanted to work on his roundabouts yesterday and chose to drive over to Peterborough to increase his experience of navigating around a variety of different size roundabouts.  Today though he wanted to transfer the learning from yesterday on to the Boston roundabouts.  Nearing the end of the day, we came to discuss the route home.  Fairly typically the middle of Boston was absolute gridlocked.  Ben then chose a route back home using a route out towards Horncastle.  He wasn’t too familiar with the route so wanted to make use of the on-board sat nav.  After tapping the destination in, he ignored the first few instructions and stayed firm with his plan to head out north of Boston. 

The route took him on a variety of rural roads, out towards Coningsby where we saw the obligatory military aircraft coming in to land.  The speed limits of the roads varied, as did the surface quality.  Ben also had to contend with pouring rain and the associated hazards that brings.  When he got back he was feeling pretty pleased with himself at what he had accomplished – it really was some achievement. 

This experience that Ben is receiving is precisely the opportunity that the BIG TOM intensive driving course offers pupils and it is entirely in line with the desires of the DVSA in their Driving Standard.  He has the freedom to be working on the training that he feels he needs, there is flexibility designed in so that he can choose where he does the training.  He is getting experience of taking the responsibility of planning journeys, he is broadening his driving experience to include all classes of roads. 

Ben is working hard and the experience he is receiving will benefit him greatly.

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries:  Sales: 07756 071 464



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Top Marks for Intensive Driving Course in Sleaford

Pete Roberts from Sleaford gives the BIG TOM intensive driving course the thumbs up!

Pete (seen here) passed his driving test in Grantham test centre with just one minor driving fault.  All BIG TOM customers are invited to give their feedback after their 5 day intensive driving course and Pete told us that he “Loved it!”.  Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) said:

Congratulations go to Peter for achieving such a brilliant result.  This is why customers use BIG TOM.  He started his course on 24/4/2017 and passed his driving test on the first attempt just 8 days later.  Part of Peter’s feedback from his customer survey indicated that he made full use of the BIG TOM driving videos, the blogs and also the reflective logs that we provide.  Time and time again, this proves to be the case that when customers embrace our learning techniques that we have incorporated into our courses, they consistently get successful results.  Thank you Peter for taking the time to provide us with your feedback.

Customers from Sleaford and surrounding areas are invited to book up in advance on to our popular 5 day intensive driving course in Sleaford.

BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries:  Sales: 07756 071 464



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Grit and determination

Luke Brook from Huntingdon gets his driving licence today, passing his driving test in Peterborough.

Luke (seen here with his new driving licence) showed some real grit and determination passing his driving test today with just 3 minors.  He took his intensive driving course with BIG TOM by travelling up on the train and when he did not pass on his first attempt, he showed true character to persevere when it would have been very easy to give it up.  Tom Ingram was his driving instructor and says of Luke:

What a great effort by Luke.  This has been a real experience for him where he has had to suffer the lows and the highs.  I take my hat off to all pupils that pass the driving test with us, but I particularly admire those like Luke that keep on going even when they don’t pass straight away.

At BIG TOM once a customer has been authorised for test, they are given continual support and guidance to see the job through.  Whilst ultimately the pupil is the one taking the test, at BIG TOM we will not give up on anyone – the support remains for them until they get their driving licence.


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Special needs and learning to drive

In this blog Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) provides some guidance for BIG TOM customers about some reasons for feeling frustrated when learning to drive.

One of the interesting aspects of being a driving instructor is the diversity of the work.  I have always very much enjoyed this aspect of the job.  Of course, not all driving instructors will share my view, but for me, it is one of the aspects that encourages me to keep learning all the time.  It is simply not the case that all pupils will learn to drive at the same rate, encountering the same experiences within the learning process, and achieving the same outcomes. 

In this blog I would like to expand on some of the obstructions that are encountered originating from the head (cognitive) rather than from the heart (confidence).   I am not for one moment trivialising the impact a loss of confidence can have on a pupil, instead my aim is to encourage you to consider how the workings of our mind can affect learning. 

The DVSA refer to some obstacles in learning as “a type of special need”.  Whilst there is definitely no expectation that DVSA registered driving instructors are intended to diagnose these special needs, there is a need to be able to “actively manage the process of finding alternative support”.  I talk often on my blogs about the need for an effective working relationship with BIG TOM customers, where communication is open, honest, treated in confidence and always being respectful to the desires of the customer.  Pupils and family members are encouraged to disclose to us any special needs that are already known to be present.  It should be stated though from the outset that there is a legal responsibility to declare to the DVLA any “notifiable” medical condition or disability that develops

Examples of the types of conditions that I am referring to here are autism related, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyscalculia.  This is very much a specialised subject, and whilst I do have experience of assisting pupils who come to me stating they have them, I am always careful to mention that the DVSA do not have an expectation that as a driving instructor I am able to understand and respond to every type of special need.

There are a wide range of ways in which these conditions can impact learning but perhaps if I mention about an example skill-set that safe drivers will rely on, it might assist in this blog to demonstrate the wider point.

One of the key skills to develop is the ability to identify a hazard in a timely manner so as to be able to consider what options are available to deal with it.  There is often more than one option available and a BIG TOM pupil is encouraged to consider them in terms of the risk factor and how the options play to the strengths/weaknesses of the pupil.  Whilst it is perfectly natural for errors to arise in this thought process, due consideration should always be given to the implications to the safety of everyone concerned as well as whether learning is actually taking place.

Consider driving on a 2 lane dual-carraigeway, you are in the right hand lane, in the process of overtaking the first of 4 vehicles when a car approaches from behind at high speed in the same lane as you.  This is undoubtedly a potential hazard, there is a risk to be assessed in doing nothing, or actively doing something.  You could for example, check to see that the car is slowing as it approaches you, look up and assess what risk is involved in continuing to overtake all 4 vehicles, then methodically, with effective observations and signalling, drive back into the left lane.  You might consider the risk involved in immediately pulling back in to the left lane, right in front of the first vehicle that you have overtaken, thereby probably “cutting it up” (not being 2 seconds in front of it in dry conditions, 4 seconds in wet).  One of the characteristic behaviours of the condition of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is being impulsive.  This means that there may be an instinctive tendency when in some situations to act on the first “option” that springs to mind.  This could result in a more potentially hazardous situation developing.  We should not lose sight of the fact that drivers can react to this situation for a wide variety of other reasons too relating to previous traumatic experiences, feelings relating to high speed, perceptions of danger etc. 

I have no intention of trivialising the subject of “special needs” with this blog, far from it.  In my experience of helping pupils in the past there are differing degrees to which people know about a condition, know how it might affect them when learning to drive or even be willing to tell a driving instructor that it exists.  The possible consequences in these situations can affect safety, the learning effectiveness, the confidence of the pupil, and the patience of the funder of the training.  These are very real outcomes which really do need to be managed effectively once they are known about.


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What does driving safely mean to you?

In this blog from Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) he asks his customers what driving safely really means to them.

In one of the Customer Update Videos that BIG TOM customers are exclusively provided access to I mention about the importance of considering what the idea of driving around safely means to you personally.  The reason why this is important to consider is because the answer to that question varies enormously between pupils and can’t be second guessed by a driving instructor. 

I expand on a graphic known as the GDE Matrix which details different depths of learning.  There is so much more to learning to drive safely than simply considering how well you control the vehicle.  An unfortunate trap to fall into is to think that once you have general control of the vehicle, and have had a go at driving around on some roads, you automatically must now be ready to drive independently.  I say an unfortunate trap, because the extremely high insurance premiums tend to suggest that many newly qualified drivers are a high risk.

Examples of things to consider include the following:

I know I can “drive” a car, am I really too bothered about whether I affect other road users while I drive round?  Do I honestly need to be aware of what is around me?

How much of the law do I need to know for my purposes?  Does driving slightly over the speed limit, smoking in cars, or texting while driving really interest me?

What kind of journeys will I be doing once I qualify?  Does it bother me if I have little experience of overtaking, parking in reverse, or driving in the dark?

How well will I be able to drive if I have a car full of mates in my car while I’m driving?

Does it matter if I don’t know how to change a tyre?  How important is it really to maintain my tyres?

Am I really bothered to know the importance of realising the relationship between what I can see ahead and my speed?


The answers to these questions will differ between pupils.  I’m not asking you to consider what is the “text book” answer, or the “right” answer to give a driving instructor, what I’m asking is quite literally, what is your opinion on these kinds of issues?  It is known that what you believe as a driver is going to affect your behaviours while you drive but there is also known to be an “intention-behaviour gap” which means that what we all intend to do is not necessarily what we actually do. 

So taking the first 2 questions as an example, you may well know that the “correct” answer is to always be willing to make effective mirror checks BEFORE changing speed or direction – but do you really, honestly believe that is important?  Do you believe in yourself that there is a connection between appreciating what is around you and how that can affect safety before you change speed or direction?  Is your INTENTION to do mirror checks, but for some reason, you seem to struggle to actually do them? 

Likewise, you might know that you get points on your licence if you get caught texting while driving, so you know that you shouldn’t, and you believe you wont, but when it comes to you driving on your own, waiting for your friend to text you, and the phone pings while you are on the dual-carraigeway, are you then going to check your phone while driving at 60mph?  You know it is wrong, you honestly believe you wont, but when it comes down to it, you just could not help yourself and you did check your friends text while driving.

It is important to what I refer on the videos as “dig deep” and make this meaningful to you, otherwise your safety will inevitably be compromised if you qualify.    


BIG TOM Driving School  Enquiries:  Sales: 07756 071 464



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