Passed first time

Will Abbott from Castle Bytham jumped all the queues to get his full driving licence this morning in Grantham with a first time pass.

Will made full use of the flexibility that BIG TOM provides customers by minimising the disruption to his work.  He incorporated one weekend training alongside his two weekdays, wrapping up his in-car training in four days.  This meant that he was able to get his driving licence in lightening speed compared to the old pay as you go driving lessons.

He passed his driving test on his first attempt with only 3 minor driving faults recorded which was a very comfortable pass for him.

Will’s Father, Phil, said of his experience with BIG TOM:

“BIG TOM got my son through his driving test after a 20 hour intensive course, first attempt.  That says lots on how big tom teaches, would recommend big tom to anyone wanting to learn to drive.

Thank you very much for getting will through his driving test . Will was at ease with you, he felt relaxed and liked the way you taught him.  Two weeks after his theory test, his driving test is passed – that is down to your skill as an  instructor.”

For more information on pricing and the range of courses for 2020, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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Help with roundabouts

Do you see a box of chocolates here? Or do you see individual chocolates?

When you enrol on a BIG TOM intensive driving course, you are seen as one individual pupil; you are not one of 8 pupils being seen in any working day.
This matters. Every pupil comes with individual characteristics regarding experience, learning traits, beliefs, knowledge etc.
Take roundabouts, for instance. BIG TOM knows that they come in all shapes and sizes and vary depending on location. The skills needed to safely and efficiently navigate around the broad range of roundabouts will include:

  • spatial awareness
  • planning
  • assessment
  • observations
  • physical hand and feet coordination
  • visualisation

Not all large roundabouts will have white lines painted on them and yet there is a need to ensure the vehicle is correctly positioned when travelling around it. This not only provides safety for all, but the position is in itself a signal to other road users about the intended path. Spiral roundabouts will often have a temporary gap of white lines on the roundabout so as not to create confusion with other white lines in another direction, and yet, there is still the need to be able to visualise the path that is needing to be maintained.
There are conventions of how a vehicle should be navigated around the range of roundabouts, and they differ. Some incorporate the routine of Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre when the vehicle exits the roundabout, others not. Sometimes there is the need to signal, others not. These are examples of the knowledge that is required in order to deal with a variety of roundabouts.
Some roundabouts are huge and have a large number of fast moving vehicles on them at any one time, other roundabouts are tiny and need to be approached at slower speeds in order to maintain an accurate position. These factors can create confusion or an imbalance in the mind of some drivers, which then has a knock-on effect later on.
There is often a sequence of driving actions needed to manage roundabouts effectively, and not everyone can easily recall or perform actions in specific sequences.
Appreciating the type of roundabout ahead and how that affects the options available to achieve a certain exit/location is not a given. Accurately identifying safe gaps to pull out, or speed and distance of other vehicles is challenging for some. Certain pupils will make a poor decision to go and then struggle to wonder why they made that decision.
On a BIG TOM course, you do not have any pressure to achieve certain goals in particular timescales. Pupils rarely enjoy such pressure. What is required to help pupils is precise, well-timed feedback, lack of judgement, patience, and clear, understandable communication.
Please don’t confuse the BIG TOM intensive driving course with other providers; they are not the same thing. At BIG TOM, we offer a choice of courses that suit the needs of the pupil.

For more information on pricing and the range of courses for 2020, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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Intensive course weekender

Molly from Peterborough passed her driving test this morning.

She took the 40 hour weekend intensive driving course with BIG TOM because she was too busy in the week.

Owner Tom Ingram says:

“I’m really pleased for Molly.  She worked hard on her course and reinforced the training with BIG TOM by practising with her Dad.  She was successful on her first attempt at the driving test.  I wish her many years of safe driving.”

Molly’s Mum, Alison says about her experience with BIG TOM:

“You have given her the confidence, knowledge and the tools to be a safe motorist in the years to come so I am very grateful.”

For more information on pricing and the range of courses for 2020, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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BIG TOM gets Ryan’s vote

On a historical election day for the UK Ryan Hewitt votes for BIG TOM after passing his test.

In an amazing 9 day turnround after booking his BIG TOM intensive course on 3/12/19, Ryan was over the moon with the response he received.  He passed his driving test today, the last day of his course, at Boston driving test centre, with only 3 minor driving faults.

Owner Tom Ingram says:

“Ryan has every right to feel pleased with himself.  Looks like Christmas came early for Ryan!  He passed his test today on his first attempt, well done Ryan.”

For more information on pricing and the range of courses for 2020, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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Safe driving over Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching BIG TOM wishes all customers a safe and peaceful holiday.

After another spectacular year of driving training for the BIG TOM driving school, the time is coming for us to put the feet up and relax.  A big thank you to all customers who have chosen our intensive driving courses.  We wish you all safe driving over the holiday period.

Owner Tom Ingram says:

“Should the weather get a bit nasty, then do be prepared to delay your journey or just put it off for another day.  We all live such busy lives but nothing comes more important than our own safety and that of our loved ones.  Happy Christmas everyone.”

For more information on pricing and the range of courses for 2020, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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Driving licence in ten days

Sam Jones passed his driving test today, getting his driving licence in ten days with BIG TOM.

Sam came to BIG TOM with an urgent need to get his drivers licence as he is starting a new business with a friend and being mobile is essential.  He booked up his intensive course on 25/11/2019 and passed his test on his first attempt today at Peterborough.

This is what Sam says about his BIG TOM experience:

“I found the course very beneficial and enjoyable at the same time, not only enabling me to pass my test first time but also increasing my knowledge and awareness towards driving safely.”

His driving instructor Tom Ingram says:

“I am so pleased for Sam.  He is a great example of someone who engaged in our resources and deserved the rewards.  This is a fabulous turning point in his life and I wish him all the very best.”

For more information on pricing and the range of courses, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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Zippy zips off to USA

James Baldwin (“Zippy”) from Ramsey passed his driving test today at Peterborough and will soon be in the USA thanks to BIG TOM

James booked up his 5 day intensive course in Peterborough with BIG TOM for November with the plan of getting his driving licence to then fly off to Tennessee in the USA before Christmas.  He has passed his driving test today and his plans are all lining up nicely.

His driving instructor Tom Ingram from BIG TOM says: “It’s always a pleasure to help customers like Zippy out.  They have very definite timescales to work to, and a great deal hangs on the fact of obtaining their full driver’s licence.  My driving school has a lot of experience of helping people like Zippy out.  This is where the BIG TOM intensive driving course really does benefit customers.”

Next stop “USA” for James!

For more information on pricing and the range of courses, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174

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Christmas Gift Ideas

BIG TOM has the perfect Christmas gift ideas for your family member or friend to learn to drive

The BIG TOM Christmas gift tokens are now available for Christmas 2019.  These popular gifts create the best wow factor for friends or family on Christmas morning.

There are a range of intensive driving courses that can be purchased, and for those customers who want the gift to be a total secret the timing of the course can be left open and arranged at a later date.

All courses that are purchased by gift tokens automatically include all of the components that are received throughout the year.  Included are: theory study resource, DVSA book, quality 1:1 in-car driving training, pre-driving digital resources, practical test fee, in-car training pack, and notebook.

The gift token is provided by post, (please allow 14 days delivery prior to Christmas Day), with instructions for the recipient to activate the course booking!  It could not be easier.

For more information on pricing and the range of courses, call BIG TOM on 0800 689 4174 and quote “Christmas gift”.

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How do you like to learn?

In BIG TOM’s tenth year of business, we ask the question of how you like to learn?

We discuss this subject with owner, Tom Ingram:

Q. How did the driving school all start?
A. It was simply my family circumstances at the time. I had two very young boys who kept on getting ill from childcare provision and my wife and I realised quite quickly that we needed to adapt how we organised our lives.

Q. So did you become a full-time Dad at home?
A. Initially it was doing the primary school runs, attending parents days where you join in with the activities in the classes, sports day, Christmas play etc. My driving school gave me the opportunity to control my work commitments. And it worked very well – the boys sickness levels reduced dramatically, instantly.

Q. Where did you start driving training?
A. Peterborough first of all. But now BIG TOM intensive courses are provided as far north as Lincoln, over to Boston, Stamford, Grantham. It has been a true success story.

Q. And is it just intensive courses that you have run?
A. No not at all. When I first started, I was doing pay as you go driving lessons and occasionally people would ask me to do block lessons over a shorter period. When I learnt to drive, which admittedly is a while ago now, there were no such things as intensive courses.  Now though, we only run the BIG TOM intensive driving courses.

Q. What is the attraction of them?
A. I can only speak about BIG TOM courses because the way we teach is fundamentally different to other intensive course providers.

Q. How is that?
A. Perhaps I could ask you to imagine being at a beautiful ski resort abroad somewhere; let’s say in America. You have never put skis on before; this is your first time. Your instructor comes over to you as you nervously wait with fear of the unknown. She explains to you that the red poles in the mountain ahead are the goal for the trip. Within a few days, she will teach you how to ski down that hill, through the red poles, not knocking any over, and on to the finish line. On hearing this news, you are very disappointed. This is not your idea of how you want to ski. You had no ambitions of downhill skiing between red poles. But on you go. The next 5 days are spent skiing monotonously down that mountain, through the poles, 10, 20, but more like 70, 80 times in total. By the time you are done, yes you can indeed ski down that hill, between the red poles, but in the process, you have been turned off of skiing for life – it has been a journey of pure hell. You vow never to ski again for the rest of your life. It was painful to keep hitting those poles and fall over, it was incredibly boring doing the same thing every day, and actually, you don’t feel very confident to ski. This is what I would encourage you to think about when learning to drive. BIG TOM has never, ever been about coaching people how to pass a driving test. Don’t get me wrong here, there will I’m sure, be some providers who are happy to do precisely that, and that is a matter for them.

Q. But if the goal is to pass the driving test, what is wrong with training on test routes?
A. It is mind-numbingly dull, the repetition. It is not teaching someone the skills needed to drive anywhere. It is not only unsafe for the pupil but unkind because once they do pass the driving test, they realise how ineffective the course was at helping them to feel confident driving around in regular journeys.

Q. How would the public know about this difference though?
A. By asking the detail of how the driving school works. It’s a bit like these “guarantees” that you hear of.

Q. Oh yes, they sound brilliant.
A. And what you need to understand is actually what you are receiving with this guarantee.

Q. Well what I’ve heard is that if you fail, you just get free lessons until you pass.
A. And this is a common thing I hear all the time. An endless supply of free driving lessons is not viable. It is more likely one remedial driving lesson for each major driving fault committed on the driving test.

Q. And what’s wrong with that?
A. Well, it would be like giving one free lesson on the ski slope because in your test attempt you hit one of the red poles on the right. So you have a free lesson, and on your next go, you hit one of the poles this time on the left. So you have another free lesson. On your third attempt , you miss one of the turns and don’t get through the poles. And on it goes. It is a very superficial way to learn whereby the taking of a test is the method to learn to ski. In effect, you are just re-taking tests. Eventually, you will manage on one occasion to get through all the poles, not touching one. Good luck though with the rest of your ski experiences because your skill base is severely limited. So in summary, yes you did receive a form of guarantee; but the result is far from desirable. Insurance premiums are as high as they are for newly qualified drivers for a reason.  People should also beware as it will be they who have to pay the fee for all these test attempts – they are expensive!

Q. If it is as bad as you make out, why are these businesses doing so well?
A. I’m not entirely sure they are doing so well to be quite honest. But that aside, it all comes down to the influential marketing. It is incredibly enticing to a young person who wants to learn as soon as possible, to go to a provider who teaches test routes. That is at the end of the day, what the person wants, to pass the driving test. But little do they know how they will be feeling about the experience they have had, after passing the driving test.

Q. Do you know this is happening?
A. I hear about it continually. A customer of mine recently in Grantham told me his girlfriend went on one of these kinds of courses. She did nothing else for five days but drove around 3 test routes. Low and behold, on test day, she passes her test. All well and good, until she tries to drive her boyfriend to the cinema in Lincoln where she is struggling to even stay on the road such are her feelings of low confidence.

Q. That sounds awful.
A. It is awful and prevalent. Yes, the goal of passing the driving test was achieved, but now this poor girl is driving around not feeling safe, and frankly, by driving off the road, not being safe. This is the problem; people, generally speaking, consider the goal of being coached to pass the test.

Q. So going back to my question earlier, what is the attraction of intensive driving courses? They sound nasty!
A. BIG TOM courses allow our customers to learn in a safe environment, skills to help them build ability and confidence. We can still get our customers passing driving tests much quicker than the average period of 7 months, but we do not compromise on the quality.

Q. How do you do that?
A. We don’t teach to test routes. We use the DVSA Driving Standard as a comprehensive framework of driving training.

Q. Why would I want to do that rather than going with someone who helps me to pass the driving test quickly?
A. That is at the heart of the matter. It is an excellent question. Ultimately, customers have the choice as to how they go about learning to drive. But as I said earlier, remember my story about skiing.

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Road safety in schools

BIG TOM Driving School held a road safety in 2019 talk to Yr 12’s at Spalding Grammar School today.

Owner of the driving school, Tom Ingram spoke about the impact of mobile phones affecting road safety and the very latest statistics in the industry and how his driving school is contributing towards the 3 goals set in the DVSA Road Safety Statement 2019.

Tom Ingram adds:

“I am grateful to Spalding Grammar School for their invitation to talk to their Year 12 students about UK road safety.  I have been doing these talks at my local grammar school for many years and it is a nice opportunity to help the teachers at Spalding Grammar school too.  The students were very engaged doing various tasks and asking questions – a credit to the school”.

BIG TOM is happy to assist other schools and welcomes invitations.

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