In response to Baroness Vere’s refusal to extend the theory test certificate, NASP has sent the following –

Dear Baroness Vere

Further to your replies regarding the extension of theory certificates, many of our joint membership have been very upset with the tone you seem to adopt regarding DVSA qualified ADIs. In your quote ‘Although ADI’s are well qualified and proficient in driving and instruction, they are not experienced assessors, this is evidenced by the current practical pass rate of 47%.”, Although we agree there are different skill sets used between an instructor/teacher and an assessor/examiner, you appear to be suggesting the low pass rate around the country is purely down to ADIs, which is deeply offensive to the profession, most of whom spend their life trying to help novice drivers to learn a life skill. It appears by your statement, examiners or indeed candidates play no part in the eventual result at the end of a practical test.
We would like you to evidence your suggestion, it’s easy to look at pass rates and point the finger, however if we look at the amazingly ‘consistent’ pass rates over the last 10 years, a growing number of ADI’s wonder how with around 1.5 million tests in a year that pass rate figure can remain virtually the same.

Surely there must be more than one contributing factor, as you state road safety is paramount, that being the case, why did DVSA allow testing to begin on exactly the same day as the last lockdown ended in England,  this exposed some candidates to take their practical exam with no professional instruction merely some private practice and in some instances no training at all. Surely in the interests of road safety this message should be consistent, and those tests should have waited until training had been underway, we would welcome your views.
You also quote “candidates who have taken their theory test in early 2019 are likely that their knowledge base and hazard perception skills will have diminished’’, this will clearly have a negative impact on road safety of new drivers.  Surely if this is correct all drivers should have their Theory knowledge retested periodically?
In addition, we should consider the hundreds of drivers who pass a practical test and do not drive for some years later, they are not even required to take any retraining before setting out in their vehicle, we would invite you to quantify how these examples fit with your assumption that extending this two-year period on a temporary basis would clearly have a negative impact on road safety of new drivers.
If you truly consider ‘The 2-year period for Theory Tests should remain for safety reasons to ensure that new drivers have current and relevant knowledge and skills’ and will not take any action to have this regulation amended, we urge you find a way to allow all the people required to retake the theory test, to take it for free and offer them priority slots, as none of this is their fault, this would also help the DVSA by taking the strain of both theory and practical test waiting times..
I look forward to your reply
Kind regards
Peter Harvey
Current NASP Chair


John Rogers of the Disability Driving Group has also responded to the Baroness’s comments:

Disability Driving Instructors continues to support the campaign for the extension of the validity period of theory test certificates

Disability Driving Instructors considers that, under the current COVID-19 restrictions, when driving test candidates are not able to take practical driving tests, it is unfair to implement the two year restriction on the validity of theory test pass certificates; Disability Driving Instructors are, along with NASP, asking for a twelve month extension to all theory tests that expire in 2020/21.
In addition we consider that some disabled and deaf candidates taking the theory test are being disadvantaged when compared to other candidates, this is having an additional impact if their theory test expires before a practical test can be taken and a re-sit is required; this additional impact would not be an issue if the twelve month extension to theory test validity is granted.
We appreciate the road safety concerns raised by the government and given as the reason for not implementing the requests for a twelve month extension to the theory test validity period, but consider these concerns could be addressed by using DVSA ADIs to assess pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the rules of the road and their practical interpretation of hazard perception skills before they take a practical driving test.

We are not advocating that ADIs should be used as examiners for the practical driving test nor are we suggesting that they should be used to test candidates taking the theory test for the first time. What we are suggesting is that ADIs could be used to assess the skills that pupils have already demonstrated by passing the theory test and ensure that their knowledge base has not diminished in the two years since they previously passed the test. The ultimate test of this knowledge though would remain with the DVSA driving test examiner and this knowledge would be tested in the normal way with a practical driving test.

As stated, Disability Driving Instructors also considers that some disabled and deaf candidates requiring special needs tests, and using the new accommodations developed to adapt for COVID-19 precautions, are being disadvantaged when compared to those taking a theory test with standard accommodations. If these people have previously passed a special needs theory test but through no fault of their own have not been able to take their practical test before the theory test validity period expires they are now being doubly disadvantaged as not only are they having to re-sit a theory test that they have already passed but they are also frequently having to wait significantly longer than those taking a standard accommodation test before they are able to take a retest. They are then often being required to take the theory test using changed accommodations that they may not be familiar with, which they may not be prepared for and, in addition, it is probable that they would also be likely to find the test more difficult to complete because of the changed accommodations.

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