We make learning easier

BIG TOM has been making learning easier for customers since 2009.  It is what makes us tick.

This is what a few have said over the years:

He always had such positive things to say with the feedback.

…he has a wonderful ability to put you at ease and he really let me take control of my own learning

‘Will’ was at ease with you, he felt relaxed and liked the way you taught him.

Even when you make mistakes, BIG TOM remains very calm, cool and collected, which made the experience very comfortable for me as a pupil.

I’ve had many driving instructions over the years and I can safely say that Tom is the best I’ve found.

He created an engaging, student-led learning environment in which I felt comfortable talking about any problems openly and guided the direction of the sessions to best address my needs.

I can promise you if he can help you he will.

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Theory test pass for Molly

The good news is that things are getting back to normal again – Molly sets the standard with a first time theory test pass this morning in Peterborough.

She made use of the online resource that BIG TOM provides intensive driving course customers, as well as the online theory study support.  In fact, yesterday, she had a 1:1 focussed theory study with Tom on video call.  They used the data from the theory study resource to work on the topics that she was slightly weaker.  It turned out to be a winning strategy where Molly’s hard work studying has paid off.

Molly said this of the re-organised test procedure:

“We had to wait outside, and then when they unlocked the door we all walked in one at a time.  We had to put our licence in a box for them to check.  Then there was seats in the waiting room away from other people.  They did the turning out of pockets, rolling up of sleeves and show behind my ears to make sure nothing was tucked in with my face mask…. but all done at the correct distance away.  All the computers in the big room were spaced apart, so you’re not sat next to anyone.  It was quite busy, there was a group of men doing another test.”

Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) says:

“It’s good to see some normality coming back.  Molly did well here by passing on her first attempt as the early signs are that test slots in general are going to be harder to come by than pre-lockdown.  But as she shows, if you engage with the resources here at BIG TOM, it’s well achievable and will save you a great deal of time, not having to wait for other attempts. I think that would be my general advice to BIG TOM customers, if you are serious about wanting to get your licence quicker, engage in our resources and strive to pass the theory and practical on the first attempt.  Well done Molly and thank you for giving us your feedback.”

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Guidance for taking tests

The DVSA have given some guidance to assist/reassure people when they go to take a theory or practical test.

Theory tests

There will be 2 metre distances for floor markings, workstations and chairs

Wearing of face covering if able*

There will be extra cleaning at test centres; workstations, computers, headphones

Use of protective transparent screens at the reception desk

Cancelling theory tests within 3 days*** is not financially penalised

Hand sanitiser available

Arrival in to the centre alone

* Do not use a face covering if you may find it difficult to manage, for example, you have a respiratory condition.

(The proposed changes to the theory test that were due to start on 14/04/2020 are not currently being implemented)

Practical tests

There is the following stipulation regarding test and trace:

Candidate participation in the NHS Test & Trace initiative is a
requirement for taking a practical test.  The examiner will ask the candidate;  “Can you confirm that you are taking part in the Government test and trace or similar national initiative and that you are happy for your details to be passed to the relevant tracing authority if needed for Covid-19 tracing purposes.”
Should the candidate not be taking part in the test and trace
initiative the test cannot go ahead.

Wearing of face covering if able** (need to notify DVSA if not able when the test is initially booked)

Only arrive 5 minutes before test

Any serious/dangerous fault on test results in returning to test centre

Cancelling practical tests within 3 days*** is not financially penalised

** you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering OR

putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress OR

you need to remove it during your test to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others

*** you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms OR

you’ve been told by the NHS Test and Trace service that you’ve been in contact with a person who has coronavirus OR

you have entered or returned to the UK in the last 14 days, except in very limited situations

You have to stay at home (self-isolate).  Change your theory/driving test appointment if you need to self-isolate on the day of your theory/driving test.

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Pay as you go driving lessons

BIG TOM is pleased to be providing customers with options.  For those not wanting intensive, pay…. as you go.

Availability for driving lessons is Monday to Friday from 6am – 9pm (we know how busy you all are).  These are paid online at £42/hr.  Weekends are also available at a slightly increased rate at £48/hr.

The aim has always been to give customers options about how they prefer to learn to drive.  People have got very busy schedules and sometimes can only fit in a driving lesson here and there – we get that.

Flexibility is the key, and BIG TOM is doing all we can to help.

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Covid 19 Safe Training Protocols Course

The owner of BIG TOM Driving School has successfully completed a course provided by The DIA Academy: COVID-19 Infection Control and Safe Training Protocols Course.

Customers should be assured that BIG TOM Admin will be utilising key systems as detailed in documents within the methodical strategy being adopted to ensure safety for all concerned while providing in-car driving training.  These include a Risk Assessment Framework Matrix & Checksheet, a Protocols Notification Form and this will inevitably have an impact on the manner in which we provide our service.  While we can reassure our customers that every effort is being made as a service provider to maintain the highest standards possible, we do ask our customers to  be as open and honest as possible with regards to informing us of any change in their personal or family home/friend network circumstances that may conflict with our goals.  We can assure all customers that if training does need to be postponed due to an unexpected safety risk, there will be no financial penalty due to cancellations, no matter how late they arise.

If you have any queries or would like details of the BIG TOM Driving School COVID-19 Driving Training Strategy, please get in touch with us: admin@BIGTOM.org.uk

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Green light

The DVSA have announced today that driving lessons resume on 04/07/2020

We have continued to offer our customers support with course bookings and theory/practical test slot availability.  The DVSA are intending to phase in the testing, with theory tests starting 04/07/2020 and practical tests starting 22/07/2020.   As ever, our blog and social media platforms will be updated accordingly.

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Jump the queue

A month ago, we introduced the fast-track, priority customer option for people who are seriously interested in learning to drive as soon as is legal and possible.

This scheme is still available. Customers can purchase a BIG TOM intensive driving course on the understanding that the start time for the in-car driving training is not known. Also, it is not known when the driving test will be made available.
A month on, and both of these situations are still present. The advantage of being a priority customer is that BIG TOM Admin will contact you when the lockdown no longer applies and offer you the course based on the available timings. In effect, you are at the front of the queue – and it may well turn out to be a long queue. If the package that is made available to you does not suit your needs, you get an immediate full refund.

To be at the front of the queue, contact us: admin@BIGTOM.org.uk

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Backlog of driving tests

BIG TOM Admin is receiving calls from non-BIG TOM pupils regarding their previously booked driving tests and they need assistance to make it clear.

We are aware that some pupils who have used other driving schools are not getting clarification of their previously booked driving tests.  The situation we all find ourselves in is as follows.

Pupils who had driving tests booked that ended up falling in the lockdown period initially had their test pushed back by the DVSA to end of June/July.  This was a holding move by the DVSA in the hope that by that time tests would be back up and running, but unfortunately driving training and tests are still not happening for non-critical workers.  The DVSA have now wiped the slate clean of all of those outstanding tests; they were causing a lot of anxiety among pupils and driving instructors who knew the test was coming up but they were not allowed out on the roads.

The DVSA are getting back in touch with the person/organisation who made the original booking once tests start up again to allow them to re-book the test so that those people do not have to go to the back of the queue once tests re-start.  Therefore, there will be some of you who have not yet been told by the DVSA that the test is cancelled but that will be coming your way imminently.

To summarise:  if you are a critical worker, you can still obtain emergency theory and practical tests.  Otherwise, for all others, neither driving training nor tests are currently allowed.  The situation may change of course, and we recommend everyone, even if you are not a BIG TOM customer, to follow our twitter feed HERE which is updated as and when announcements are made.

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Time to test guarantee

BIG TOM is happy to announce another superb benefit for customers that comes as standard – the ‘time to test guarantee’.

We prefer to communicate with our customers in an open and transparent way so as to build trust and honesty in our working  relationships.  As things develop with the virus lockdown, we are aware that some customers are anxious about the driving test slot availability.  We do understand why this would cause anxiety.  It is still early days and the DVSA have not provided any indication of how they intend to organise tests slots but we would like to reassure our customers.  Having completed a BIG TOM intensive driving course and attained the status of ‘authorised for test’, if there is a subsequent delay to test day of more than 21 days, BIG TOM will provide a free two hour session for our customers to enable them to feel confident and fresh for the test.  We guarantee that this time will be made available in the event that it is appropriate.

This added benefit does not affect in any way the long established two bonus hours that BIG TOM provides for test day.  Customers will still receive that service as part of their intensive course.

We hope that this added benefit goes some way to demonstrate the commitment to our customers starts from the resources provided after booking and leads all the way up to test.  Our BIG TOM Admin work tirelessly to organise the theory and practical test bookings for our customers.

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Driving test centres closed

BIG TOM customers can get the very latest news, as it happens via our twitter feed which is primarily there for you.  Link up to it!

The DVSA have now wiped the slate clean of any previously booked practical driving tests.  For those people who had their test booked prior to lockdown, once things return to normal, they will be contacted by the DVSA to submit for another test (meaning they do not have to join the back of the queue).

The theory tests still continue to be cancelled on a staged process, the very latest cancellation was for theory tests from 22/06/2020 – 03/07/2020.

We have been updated by the DVSA regarding some of the issues they are working on in order to start up testing again in a safe manner.  This primarily detailed the buildings maintenance and also organisation of the examiners available for work.

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