Invoking the spirit of our very own ‘Agony Aunt’ in the form of the lovely and well-versed Lou Walsh, we hope to provide solutions to your professional queries and answers to your industry questions

Time & Distance

I’m really conscious of my mileage allowance. How can I reduce the number of miles I’m driving?
Pardeep, ADI

Answer: I’m guessing you are with a leasing company who penalise you for mileage over your set contracted allowance. It’s a very real issue that can affect your lessons if it’s constantly in the back of your mind. Here are a few things to consider:
1) Can you increase your mileage allowance mid-contract? This may come with a financial consequence, but be cheaper in the long run. So, do the calculations and decide.
2) Increase your lesson prices so you can afford more days off, leaving the car on the drive rather than clocking up any extra miles.
3) Diary plan so that lessons start and finish geographically closer. Try to keep all pupils from the same area on the same day of the week so that your time and mileage between pupils is reduced. For example, if you drop off at the local college, plan for you next pupil to be picked up from the same college. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out so conveniently, but at least plan so you are dropping off and picking up within a small mileage radius.
4) Worst case scenario, look at using a family member’s car, or even purchasing a second car for out of hours driving so that you’re not clocking up miles on your business car during your time off.

Any driving instructors leasing a car need to factor in this potential hidden cost, as it can all too easily have a detrimental effect on your lesson planning, and you can find yourself deliberately reducing the experiences you are providing your pupils in an effort to keep your miles down. Clearly, that’s not good for anyone!

Righting the Wrong

Training for my Part 2, if I find myself in the wrong lane at any point, should I continue in the lane I’m in or do my checks, signal and hope someone lets me into the correct lane?
Graham PDI

Answer: Do wrong right! Please don’t change lanes, as the possibility of being ‘failed’ for it is very high! Instead, do what’s expected for the lane you are in and you will not be penalised. The reason for the Part 2 is not to show that you can drive, but to show what you are most likely going to teach! However good we are at making accurate, safe and effective split-second decisions based on our years of experience, a pupil, however ‘good’ they appear to be, will rarely make a safe, last second decision to change a plan! We need to be teaching forward planning and executing safe, timely manoeuvres. Your Part 2 examiner will be expecting good awareness and planning skills from you, and this driving style reduces the chance of being in the wrong situation. However, we all get caught out occasionally, so have a plan ready to implement, and practise going wrong in a safe way. The best way is to imagine a car behind you, and if they couldn’t tell you had gone wrong, then you’ve done it right!

Record & Refer

I’m training towards my Part 3. I’ve just read a post suggesting I should be keeping a ‘reflective log’ to show to the examiner. What exactly is a reflective log?
Stuart, PDI

Answer: Don’t confuse a reflective log with your official log of training hours and the ADI21AT form. Your reflective log is evidence of your thoughts, reflections, experiences and development throughout your training journey. It should be made up of your write ups and reviews of training sessions, any workshops you’ve attended or online resources you have been using, and perhaps even a summary of what you have learnt from any books you’ve been reading. As you have been reflecting on your lessons (with or without your trainer), you should reflect on what you’ve learnt, as well as areas you wish to develop further. It can also include your trainer’s reflections and feedback on your training sessions. The motives for introducing this into the Part 3 is because the DVSA wanted to send the message to trainers to widen their training repertoire, whilst also encouraging the skill of self-reflection in the next generation of driving instructors. It’s your log, it’s for your benefit, not the examiners. So, record whatever is going to be of benefit to you. Some people just keep simple flash or memory card records, others have a notebook they record their reflections in, while some complete folders of information. There are no strict rules. Although the examiner will ask you for your log, it’s not a compulsory part of the assessment so don’t panic if it’s not something you have already done (although it’s never too late to start!), and don’t be disappointed if the examiner does little more than flip through and tick a box. Remember, it’s not for their benefit, it’s for yours, and by the time you get to your Part 3, it should have already done its job!

Live & learn

I’d like to do some CPD in the next few months to keep up with the latest training thoughts and to improve my own teaching. What would you suggest?
Kelly, ADI

Answer: There are a number of training providers and individual ADIs out there offering interesting and useful opportunities to learn and develop. Some that are popular at the moment and on my list of ‘must attend’, include facial expression and body language reading, and eco driving. It’s worth looking around and thinking what would really interest you – the more interested you are in a subject, the more you’ll learn from a a seminar or course on it. Attend your local association meetings and pick one or two of the larger national associations’ conferences that are held around the country. Here you will get to see a variety of speakers and, if something jumps out at you, then you can investigate further and invest in a course. There is nothing more valuable for helping your own development than some good old self-reflection, and simply filming a lesson or two and watching them back can be a great place to start, and a real eye opener too! Any opportunity you get to watch other people teach is another fantastic way to discover areas of learning, so do it. You will pick up on teaching tools and techniques you can take on and use, as well as perhaps seeing others do things that make you think ‘Hmmm, that doesn’t work!’.
It’s also good to think out of the box when it comes to training. Once or twice a year I deliberately enrol on a course totally unrelated to driver training in order to see other teaching, and put myself squarely into the ‘learner’ seat. Go on, enrol on an evening class and have some fun!

If you are interested in finding out more about some of the courses Lou has to offer, visit her website –