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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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Observing the driving test

BIG TOM driving school has a positive policy on observing driving tests for pupils, this blog explains how it helps.

Pupils of the BIG TOM intensive driving course have the guaranteed right to expect to have their driving test observed by their driving instructor.  The test can be stressful and pupils’ ability to recollect what happens varies considerably.  By having a driving instructor observe the test, there is precise feedback of where incidents occur at the time.

Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) adds:

I would remind readers that the role of a driving examiner is purely one of assessment; they are not performing a instructive function.  The feedback they give will only be based around what happened that created a major driving fault to be recorded.  By having a driving instructor observe the test, they can provide vital feedback of how to actually improve skills and techniques.  This is yet another benefit passed on to customers that set us apart from others.

It is of course optional for BIG TOM customers, no-one has to have their test observed if they do not want it.  If any of our customers WANT the service, then it is guaranteed to be provided – a cast iron pledge.

The two-week intensive course starts from £1497 – call us on 0800 689 4174

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Learning to drive with dyspraxia

People who have dyspraxia can find the routine tasks of our day to day living difficult.  Driving is no exception.  Coping with learning to drive can be hard.  At BIG TOM we understand the problem.

One of the essentials of learning to drive with dyspraxia is persevering. BIG TOM has got a lot of experience of helping adults learn to drive with dyspraxia and patience is a reliable guarantee.

The co-ordination skills that others will take for granted are not necessarily present. The unusual swings in driving ability can be very trying. When pupils come on to the BIG TOM intensive driving course, what they need is a driving instructor who is staying calm, helping out as much as possible. In our experience, it is possible to overcome issues relating to dyspraxia. Still, there should be an acknowledgement that it is going to take time, repeated practice and a great big dollop of understanding.

Since being established in 2009, BIG TOM has been helping pupils with a range of learning difficulties. The experience gained helps us to recognise and expect the emotional imbalance that pupils feel. Feelings of isolation, confusion, low self-esteem are common, and this driving school understands these effects. The driving training is conducted within a learning environment, mindful of maintaining respect and dignity. We don’t expect every pupil to progress at the same rate in some robotic fashion.

Our experience helps us to understand the symptoms, design in assisting mechanisms and truly empathise. We know the problem and do all we can to keep our pupils on track to achieve their goal of a full driving licence, in realistic timescales.

The two-week intensive course starts from £1497 – call us on 0800 689 4174

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Driving with friends

It is a fact that there can be increased risk factors associated when driving with many occupants in a car.

Driving with friends in the car can be very distracting, and it can affect driving behaviours. Latest DVSA data shows that young men aged 17-24 are the highest risk group of all car drivers. Drivers are not intentionally being distracted and increasing the risks; it is purely down to the influence of friends in the car. It becomes more about how well a driver can manage the situation. Driving is an effortful activity, requiring concentration and focus, especially in the early years of passing a driving test.
The BIG TOM intensive driving course does cover this subject as part of the flagship two-week course. It is one of many factors that can affect driving behaviours. Drivers need to recognise increased risk factors when they drive independently. Raising awareness of how external and internally generated factors can alter how someone drives a car is an essential aspect of the training programme.

Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM) adds:

“It is not just a problem related to when driving with other occupants present.  It can also occur when passengers get in a car, when they may know some of the occupants but perhaps not the driver.  Younger people can be reluctant to speak out about how they feel danger when someone else is driving.  Drivers have a responsibility to keep their passengers safe and feeling safe, and this is an important point on our two-week intensive driving course.”

The two-week intensive course starts from £1497 – call us on 0800 689 4174

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Simple steps to road safety

BIG TOM provides a range of resources for the benefit of our customers.  We go the ‘extra mile’ to help and support pupils on our popular intensive driving courses.  Take a look at our Simple Steps to Road Safety infographic.

Pupils do not have to wait until they are doing the in-car training on the intensive course before learning key road safety concepts.  Support and guidance come to customers the moment they reserve their course.

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