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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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Driving lessons questions

BIG TOM Admin publishes the answers to some of the more common questions being asked.

    • When are you going to be working again? It is not known at the moment.  It still remains the case to be illegal to provide driving lessons for non-critical workers in this lockdown.
    • What about a driving test that I had booked before lockdown?  The DVSA has cancelled all outstanding driving tests.  It is not clear when examiners are going to be returning to work.
    • And theory tests?  Theory tests are being cancelled by the DVSA on a weekly basis.  Tests from 22 June 3 July are the latest to have been cancelled.
    • Can I take lessons with my parents?  It really is a decision for each family to take because circumstances are different.
    • I’m a key worker – can I book a course with you?  The DVSA are allowing driving training to occur for what they call critical workers.  It is best to check with them that you qualify to have this kind of training as there are conditions attached.
    • Is it ok to book a course with BIG TOM for when the restriction is lifted? Yes we are offering a priority service for customers who pre-book, they get first allocation on training.
    • Can you guarantee that I’ll get a driving test soon after my course? When it comes to the subject of driving test availability, it is important to say that no driving schools across the UK have any idea at the moment how the DVSA intend to run the tests.  Will there be less examiners working per day?  Will they run less tests to accommodate social distancing?  No-one knows and there really is little point speculating.  Due to the suspension of tests since March, suffice to say, there is going to be huge demand for tests.  We are offering all customers post-lockdown a free 2 hour refresher as standard, just in case there is any delay between finishing the course and the test date.
    • Are there any dangers involved in continuing driving lessons after the lockdown? This is why BIG TOM is waiting to hear from the experts before resuming training as we intend to ensure safety standards are maintained.
    • Are you open for training in the school holidays?  We would like to think so but quite honestly, at this moment in time, no-one knows when we are returning.  Some customers are already booking up courses with us, so that as the lockdown lifts, they get to be trained first.
    • Is it required for me to have passed my theory test before booking with you?  No, we have some excellent resources for people who are studying for the theory test, Tom has provided some theory study questions and answer videos.  Don’t forget that with BIG TOM, the theory test fee and TWO practical test fees are covered in the course price as standard.

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Intensive course update

As the lockdown conditions continue to relax, BIG TOM Admin is keen to ensure all customers are kept up to date with the impact of changes in the industry.

The DVSA announced late last night that the theory tests for the month of June are going to be cancelled.  Clearly this is disappointing news for all of our customers with bookings.  The DVSA will be informing BIG TOM Admin by email on a case by case basis, and we assure all customers that all attempts will be made to create new bookings when available.  There is no need for BIG TOM customers to take any direct action with us here at Admin or the DVSA.  We will automatically get in touch with you.

There is no change in the practical driving test suspensions or with the nationwide ban on driving training for non-critical workers.  Please keep monitoring this blog for all the latest information.

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Priority customers

As the lockdown conditions start to be relaxed, it is essential to keep BIG TOM customers up to date with how they will potentially be affected.

Owner of BIG TOM Driving School gives the following advice:

Driving instructors have not as yet been given any specific time from the government, as to when they can start in-car training again. There is much talk of a start possibly being 04/07/2020, but as of today, there has not been an official announcement.
BIG TOM customers are continuing to book intensive courses so that they can receive a priority service and start to prepare for the theory test and also the in-car training. This continues to be a good opportunity to make full use of the downtime.
When it comes to tests, the DVSA are allowing theory tests to be booked post 31/05/2020, but practical tests continue to be suspended. Anyone who had a practical test postponed to June now has them automatically pushed back further by the DVSA into July and August. There is also talk of a reduced capacity at driving test centres when they do eventually open up. This situation is fluid, and there are no guarantees about future availability. It appears at this moment in time that in all likelihood, there is going to be an extreme demand for driving test slots, which is why we have created a prioritised system for bookings. It is very important that customers carefully consider the DVSA test booking issue prior to booking with us, as clearly this is a factor that BIG TOM has very little control over. This will be a nationwide issue I suspect, although there is likely to be slight variations across all the driving tests centres that BIG TOM uses.
The advantage of customers pre-booking courses at this stage is that once we have official notification from the government that it is legal to train, BIG TOM Admin will automatically contact these priority customers in the order of the date the course was booked – earliest first. This is simply an attempt to ensure fairness in a situation that is likely to get rather frenetic, due to there being excess demand.
I appreciate this is hardly an ideal situation and in light of these circumstances rest assured that at the time of BIG TOM Admin calling back customers, if the customer wants to change their mind at that time, they will receive an immediate full refund.  Once a customer confirms the timing slot for the BIG TOM in-car training, then all of our cancellation conditions continue as normal.  Should there be any hint of C-19 symptoms from instructor/pupil, then any cancellations will not incur any losses.
In summary, I think I would strongly advise customers who are considering making use of BIG TOM courses to get the theory test completed as soon as possible. Really don’t delay on that task. I don’t expect any delays to occur due to availability for in-car training, but the potential real sticking point is the DVSA availability of practical test slots.

BIG TOM continues to offer all customers throughout this lockdown, 1:1 online support for theory study, including the hazard perception and new changes soon to be introduced to the test.
Face masks are required to gain entry and take theory tests, and we await any instructions of the precautions required to undertake in-car training. BIG TOM will comply with any statutory conditions.
If there are any questions regarding this situation, we do appreciate that this is a very difficult time and will be happy to discuss and advise to the best of our ability with the clearest explanation without obligation.

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BIG TOM is open

The Government has made their announcement about loosening the lockdown restraints.  As such, BIG TOM is open for customers.

We would like to reiterate that clearly this situation is fluid and open to change.  It should also be noted that as of today, the theory/practical test suspension dates are still in place.  As it currently stands, in-car training is looking likely to resume in early July 2020.  This blog will be updated should that situation change.

Hygiene standards have always been a priority for BIG TOM Driving School.  We will continue to maintain the same standards of precautions that we previously stated on 11/03/2020.  We ask all our customers to do the same.

The safety of our customers remains to be our number one priority.

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C-19 update

The Government has announced a further extension to the theory test slot availability.

Firstly, welcome to any readers who have come on to the BIG TOM intensive driving course website in this period of lockdown.  We very much hope that you are managing to keep safe and well, and that your friends and family are also coping in these times.

The suspension of theory test slots has been extended to up to and including 30/05/2020.  As ever, we are continuing to monitor this situation very closely for our customers.  BIG TOM Admin continues to function as normal for the booking of courses so as to allow the release of our important pre-course resources.

We are rather hoping to receive a possibly more favourable update tomorrow with the hint perhaps of some signs of releasing the lockdown.  While we are aware that there are signs of the public taking private driving lessons on the roads this week, we can only stress that unless training critical workers, it is not permitted to drive on public roads for the purpose of driving training.

We understand that this can be a source of frustration for our customers who for a variety of reasons may be very keen to start/continue their intensive as soon as is possible.  Rest assured that as soon as we are legally able to train again, we will be back in touch with our customers and we would ask you to remain patient.

At this time, we would also encourage all customers to make full use of the online support classes being offered for theory study by the owner Tom Ingram.  These are free, interactive webinars using branded DVSA resources.

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