Friday, February 26, 2021

Get ready for your first driving lesson!

You've received your new provisional driving licence, you've booked your first driving lesson, now you're wondering what to expect. I will explain everything to put you at ease and look forward to beginning your learning journey.

Thank you for choosing me as your driving instructor and I look forward to our adventure.

Be sure to get a good night's sleep before the big day. You'll want to feel fresh and ready to begin the lifetime skill of driving a car. Have breakfast and bring a bottle of water with you, particularly if its a warm day. The car is fully air conditioned but the stop-start nature of the early steps to driving will mean the engine won't always be running.

I will pick you up from the address you've given me at your chosen date and time.

Have your driving licence ready for me to check. I will check that the photo on your licence resembles something like you, don't be shy, if you've got an awful photo like me, I won't judge! I will then conduct a quick eyesight check to ensure you meet the safety requirements to drive a vehicle. Remember to bring glasses if you need them, sunglasses if its bright.

We will then go to a suitable area ideal for practising the basics of car control. During the journey I will introduce myself and tell you a little about today's lesson. Feel free to ask any questions - at any time - no question is a silly question, ask away.

When we reach a suitable area, we will swap seats (Covid19 regulations followed of course). We will get you sitting comfortably, set up those mirrors, get everything ready to go. We will then begin to explore what the various controls, switches and levers do. I will check your understanding and fill in any gaps in your knowledge. Keep those questions coming.

Once you've familiarised yourself with the car, we can then have a look at the process of moving off and stopping. We will break it down into small chunks for you to have a go. Try it, have fun, don't worry - you won't break anything! It's worth pointing out I have a clutch and brake pedal so I can stop the car safely if the need arises. You'll be moving off in no time. Imagine that! We will spend time repeating the process until you feel ready to try some gear changes.

Depending on the area's suitability we may get the chance to use some quiet junctions - no pressure, the option will be there if you wish. I will always encourage you but I'm conscious it is a lot of information to take in on a first lesson.

You will be amazed just how much progress you will make in such a short amount of time. Feel free to do as much or as little as you wish, there are no hard and fast rules, just relax, get used to it and enjoy it.

Again, if you have any questions, fire away. Your input is always welcomed and encouraged. Been driving with your parents prior to lessons and want to try things a different way? Go for it.

We will then have a little debrief about what you've learned and what you'd like to achieve next. As always, I will ensure you are very much in control of how you'd like lessons to develop. I will ensure everyone's safety at all times. We will then set a few goals for the next lesson.

We will then head home and we can set a date and time for your next lesson. Congratulations, you've taken the first steps to getting onto the road. Now is the time to begin practising for your theory test - the earlier you pass this the more time you'll have to focus on the practical test.

I very much look forward to meeting you.

Additional support available for those taking their theory and practical tests

 Special provision will be made by the DVSA for those with additional needs when taking their theory and practical tests. Whether you're hard of hearing, you have a physical disability or a learning difficulty, support is available for you.

You must inform the DVLA of any special needs or physical disabilities which might affect your ability to drive safely. More information can be found here.

Theory test support

Extra time may be given for those with learning difficulties or hard of hearing. You can choose to listen to the test using a headset, this option is available to everyone - no proof of disability is required. You can also opt for a one-to-one reader/recorder. This is a person appointed by the test centre who can read and record your answers. They are not allowed to explain any questions to you. No allowance will be made for additional support for the Hazard Perception Test.

You must inform the test centre of any additional support needed when booking your theory test.

More information can be found on the DVSA website.

Practical test support

There are a few options available to help support those hard of hearing, those with a physical disability and those with a learning difficulty. Your examiner will allow you extra time for your test. This will allow time for the examiner to explain the support available to you. You may choose to take a break during the test.

You must state any hearing, physical disability or learning difficulty when booking your practical test. Details will then be passed to your examiner who will be aware of your needs before meeting you.

More information can be found on the DVSA website.

Useful links

Further information on driving with additional needs can be found at the following websites.

 - East Anglian DriveAbility
 - Driving Mobility
 - British Dyslexia Association
 - National Autistic Society
 - Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

Monday, February 22, 2021

Safeguarding Adults: Level 3 Training


As part of my commitment to professional development, I have completed Level 3 training in Safeguarding Adults, a course from Health Education England provided by

'This course forms part of a programme designed to cover the complete set of Level 3 learning outcomes in the Safeguarding Adults Intercollegiate Document - Adults Safeguarding: Roles and Competencies for Health Care Staff, published in August 2018.'

Lesson dedication - why regular lessons are so important

Whether you choose an intensive driving course or you opt for weekly lessons, its important to stick to a routine that maximises efficiency and keep things fresh. Here's why.

The route to driving success is dedication and good organisation on your part. Past test results have shown that a set routine for your driving lessons will improve your chances of going on to pass your driving test in the most efficient way possible.

That is, if you choose a 2 hour slot once a week this will ensure your knowledge is fresh, you will quickly build on what you have learned from your previous lesson, keeping recapping time to a minimum. Those whose lessons are infrequent and patchy will spend more time recapping on previous lessons, ultimately requiring more lessons to pass their driving test.

You will see more rapid progress too.

Inevitably, life gets in the way sometimes and there may be times where you cannot commit to a regular driving lesson. Do try to make it as regular as you can though.

Get it booked, get it done, get passed.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Private practice between driving lessons

Should you get in some private practice with parents in between driving lessons? I take a look at the benefits of gaining experience outside of lessons.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have access to a vehicle alongside driving lessons but for those who are, why not make the most of the extra experience alongside your lessons with your instructor? It will enable you to get used to another vehicle, particularly if the vehicle is to be yours once you've passed your driving test. Getting used to a different clutch will help improve your clutch control too.

Remember you must be supervised at all times by a suitable full licence holder and your vehicle must be insured for you. More information can be found here.

You can use this opportunity to get plenty of practice at times when you wouldn't be able to have a driving lesson, for example in the evening and in varying road conditions. Although your instructor will strive to provide you with as much on-road experience as possible, they can't cover all situations.

Practice what you have learned on driving lessons

Learned a new manoeuvre? Get in your car and practice it. Try it out and see what works for you. You can always return to this on your driving lesson and continue to improve. Use the opportunity to complement your driving lessons.

If you want to spend more time covering a particular junction, go back to it in your own vehicle. The more confident you become, the less your parents should guide or advise you on, the more independent you will become. Enjoy it, its all part of your journey to becoming a safe and confident driver.

Guidance for supervising persons

If you're a little apprehensive about supervising your son or daughter, take them to a quiet area and let them show you what they can do. Try to relax and let them drive as they do on their driving lessons. Be patient - they may make mistakes, see it as a part of their learning. Advise and guide as best you can. I will always be available to chat before or after their driving lesson if you need to seek my advice.

It is important to note that if I do not think they are at the required level in their learning to be on the road without a qualified driving instructor I would not advise private practice. Under no circumstances should you put yourself or others in any danger. We are qualified to manage the risk and to share responsibility so will always advise accordingly.

If things do not go to plan and you find yourself or your son or daughter getting stressed or anxious, take a break. If things don't improve, consider calling it a day for now. Driving while feeling anxious will harm their confidence and could hinder their learning. Seek my advice if this is something you are struggling to manage.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

What to expect on your test day

 The day is finally here. Everything you have been working on with your driving instructor has led to this day. What can you expect?

Your driving instructor will pick you up at the pre agreed time and location. Be sure to bring your provisional driving licence and theory pass certificate with you. Think about how you can best use the lesson time before your test - maybe some general driving, maybe practising a manoeuvre?

We will aim to arrive at the test centre around 5-10 minutes before your test start time, we will get parked up and get everything ready. I will follow Covid 19 guidelines with cleaning the vehicle before the examiner gets into the vehicle. They may choose to wipe down the vehicle too.

We will meet the examiner in the test centre waiting room. They will introduce themselves to you. They will ask to see your provisional driving licence. You will need to sign to verify you are who you say you are. Please ensure your signature matches that of your driving licence.

The examiner will ask you to read a vehicle licence plate from a set distance. This is to ensure you meet the safety requirements to continue with the test.

They will ask if you would like your driving instructor to accompany you on test. Some people prefer this but understand that they cannot say or do anything - you'd just be taking them for a drive.

You will then be asked a 'tell me' question before you set off. They will ask you a 'show me' question once you set off. Familiarise yourself with these questions now. 

The practical driving test will consist of general driving, a reversing manoeuvre, and an independent driving element. Your driving test will last around 40 minutes.

The general driving element of the test will include pulling over beside the kerb and moving off safely, moving away from behind a parked vehicle and a hill start. You may also be asked to perform an emergency stop.

The examiner will ask you to perform a reversing manoeuvre. This could be a parallel park, parking forward into a bay and reversing out, reversing into a bay, or pulling up on the right-side of the road and reversing back two vehicle lengths, before re-joining the traffic.

You will be asked to drive independently for 20 minutes. You'll be asked to either follow signs towards a destination or to follow a sat nav. The sat nav will be set up for you. If you cannot see traffic signs due to being obscured, your examiner will give you directions until it becomes clear again.

If you think you've made a mistake during your test, put it behind you and carry on as normal. Feedback will be given so you know what went wrong.

Your examiner may be accompanied by a supervisor. They are not there to observe you so try to ignore the fact they are there.

When you return to the test centre, the examiner will let you know if you've been successful. They will explain any faults you may have picked up and will provide any relevant feedback. You will then be driven home.

If you have any questions or concerns prior to your driving test, please let me know.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have put together some frequently asked questions I've been asked over the last few years.

- Am I ready for my driving test?
- How many lessons will I need?
- Can I take the driving test in my own car?
- Can I have a lesson before my driving test?
- Will you drop me home after my driving test?
- Do you book my driving test?
- Can I drive as soon as I've passed my driving test?
- Should I choose an intensive course or opt for weekly lessons?
- What if I disagree with the examiner's decision?

Am I ready for my driving test?

It can be difficult to know when you are ready to take your driving test. Lessons are going great, you've mastered all of the reversing manoeuvres - but can you do all this without any input from your instructor?

You may have come to an agreement with your instructor that you can go ahead and book a driving test on the condition you continue with driving lessons in the meantime. This means that your driving instructor expects you to be ready if you continue to make adequate progress. It may not mean you are ready right away. Keep those lessons up.

As you become more confident and skilled at driving, the input from your instructor should reduce. You need to be able to drive as though your driving instructor is there for the ride. The less input from them, the better.

It can be beneficial to take a mock test to see where you're at. This will give you an idea of what to expect from the driving test and will highlight any areas that may need improvement. Don't be disheartened if you fail a mock test, use it as a learning opportunity.

Ask yourself: do you still rely on your driving instructor for keeping you at the speed limit, do you need them to guide you through a manoeuvre? If yes, would you consider yourself safe to sit a driving test?

How many driving lessons will I need?

This is a difficult question to answer. The important thing to remember is that everybody learns differently. Please do not compare yourself to your friends' progress. The most important thing here is that you take the time to take on board the skills needed to be a safe and competent driver.

Just think - the more hours you get with your instructor, the more experience you are getting.

Can I take the driving test in my own car?

Yes you can, however, put yourself in the shoes of the examiner. Most people learn to drive with an instructor and so will take their driving test in their instructors vehicle. This will be equipped with dual controls and appropriate mirrors. If you are ready for your driving test then the dual controls should not be needed, but they are there for the safety of you and the examiner.

Imagine how the examiner would feel if they need to take action and they are unable to do so? How would this impact road safety?

You must also ensure that your vehicle is covered by a valid insurance policy specifically allowing you to take a driving test. Many learner policies will cover driving tuition but will not allow you to take a driving test.

Can I have a lesson before my driving test?

Of course. A lesson before your driving test will give you enough time to warm up and to get some last minute practice in. However, I don't recommend you drive for too long before your test, you will need to remain fresh and alert and ready for the challenge.

Will you drop me home after my driving test?

Yes of course. Regardless of the test result, I will drive you home. This will give you the opportunity to relax and break the good news. If you don't get the result you wanted, it will give you the time you need to reflect and to ask me any questions you may have.

Do you book my driving test?

You are responsible for booking your own theory and practical driving tests. You can work this around your own commitments. All I ask is that you check with me prior to booking. I cannot he held responsible for any double-bookings which may occur as a result of not checking I am available first.

You can book your test on the DVSA bookings website. There are some services which will offer to book on your behalf, steer clear of these. Do it direct with the DVSA.

Can I drive as soon as I've passed my driving test?

Yes, absolutely. Go for it. You will be given a test pass certificate which you will need to keep safe until your full driving licence arrives. Your examiner will ask if you'd like them to send your provisional licence away on your behalf, if you need this for ID in the meantime, you have the option of doing it yourself. Either way, you can drive straight away.

Should I choose an intensive course or opt for weekly lessons?

This is a personal choice depending on your circumstances. A majority of people choose to book weekly driving lessons. However, if time is short or you need a driving licence fast, an intensive course may be the way forward. The idea is to fit in a pre-agreed set of hours within a week or two with a driving test to follow. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, its very difficult to get short notice tests and so it may be worth opting for weekly lessons.

What if I disagree with the examiner's decision?

If you think that your driving examiner did not follow the regulations when conducting your driving test, you can appeal to the DVSA. Your test result cannot be changed but if your appeal is successful, you may be awarded a free retest.

It is important you listen to your examiner's feedback carefully and ask any questions you may have. A lot of time can be saved if you fully understand the reasons behind their decision. Your driving instructor can advise you further if they feel you have a case to appeal.

If you'd like to discuss your options, please contact me.

Monday, February 8, 2021

How to book your driving test

 Follow this quick guide to book your practical driving test.

IMPORTANT! Please ensure you have an agreement with me and we have spoken about your readiness for a practical driving test before you proceed.

If you book a practical driving test on the pretence that you are not likely to be ready, you risk not having my vehicle available for your test. I cannot guarantee adequate lesson availability if you book a practical test at short notice without having agreed a plan beforehand.

The easiest and most convenient way of booking a practical driving test is through the DVSA bookings website. You are able to book, change and cancel practical tests through this service. You will be asked for my reference number. Please ignore this. Providing you contact me prior to booking your test, you will not need to worry about double-booking my vehicle.

 You can contact the DVSA bookings support team on 0300 200 1122 if you have any issues.

Beware of third-party booking services

You should only book your theory and practical driving tests through the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency official website. The cost of the category B practical driving test is £62. Be particularly aware of websites which promises 'free retests' or 'guaranteed passes'.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Practical driving test - ten top tips

 It's  one of the most stressful events of your life, its up there with moving house. The driving test. You've spent a number of hours practising for this day, how can you minimise the stress to help achieve that all important pass?

I have put together ten top tips to help you keep those nerves under control. Everybody starts their driving test with a clean sheet, lets keep it that way!

1. Stay calm, breathe, don't think of the what-ifs, just focus on the task at hand.

I can't stress this enough. Take each minute as it comes. Stay focussed, deal with the task at hand and forget about what the examiner is doing. They will encourage you to relax and concentrate as best you can. The more you relax and get into the swing of it, the more you'll enjoy it and the quicker the time will pass.

The examiner will introduce themselves and may engage in a little conversation to help put you at ease. You are welcome to listen to some music to break the silence, the volume must remain low though.

If you think you've made a mistake, try to forget about it and move on. You cannot change what has happened but you can affect what happens later.

2. Don't change the way you drive

The examiner wants to see you drive as you drive with your instructor. Don't be tempted to drive under the speed limit "because my Dad says its safer", keep making progress. They want to see you fit in with other road users. Do not make anyone slow down or stop unnecessarily, swerve or swear. Be courteous and respectful to all road users.

3. Remember your observations

I lose count of the number of times I remind pupils to check their mirrors. Its easily overlooked but its crucial the mirrors are checked. Remember to always check your mirrors before changing speed or direction and before giving a signal. Constantly check your surroundings when performing a manoeuvre. Check, check, check!

4. Don't be afraid to ask

If you are unsure of what you are being asked to do, don't be afraid to ask your examiner to repeat the instruction. It's far better to double-check rather than take a guess at what it is you're being asked to do.

5. Know the speed limits

Be sure to gather all the information you need - be aware of speed limits, obey all road signs, all the clues are there. Remember its your responsibility to stay within the law and practice safe driving - for life, not just to pass your driving test.

6. If in doubt, hang back

If you are unsure whether its safe to emerge from a busy junction, hang back. Only proceed when you feel it is safe to do so. If its takes longer than usual to enter a busy roundabout, so be it. Don't proceed if it isn't safe 'just because we were waiting ages'.

7. Don't panic if you take a wrong turn

The driving test is a test of your driving ability, if you take a wrong turn - providing you do it safely, there's no need to panic. It happens when under pressure.  Your examiner will guide you back onto the test route.

8. Take a shunt on a manoeuvre if you need to

If you feel your manoeuvre isn't shaping up as you'd like it, you always have the option of correcting it. Remember to take your time and to be aware of your surroundings. If the examiner remains quiet when you have finished your manoeuvre, use this as a hint - maybe they feel you haven't quite completed it satisfactorily.

9. Keep a safe distance

Always leave a safe travelling distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Take into account the weather and road conditions. Give larger vehicles more space on roundabouts and when changing direction.

10. Be polite, courteous and calm

Your examiner will let you know your test result as soon as you return to the test centre. Give them the chance to explain their feedback, be polite and remain calm if you do not get the result you hoped for. Raising your voice will not make you look good and will result in an awkward drive home. Remember, despite the stereotypical hard-nosed reputation, they are only doing their job.

Good luck!

'Show me tell me' explanation

You will be asked one 'show me' question and one 'tell me' question on your driving test. You will most likely be using thes...