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

Listen and Learn

I have a pupil who struggles to read the theory questions. Can she have a voiceover despite not having been officially diagnosed with reading difficulties?

Jilly, ADI

Answer: Yes, she can book a voice over at the same time as booking the test without needing any proof or extra time. However, if you think she will need extra time too, then she will need evidence either from her doctor, or from her school or college, stating that she has been granted extra time during her exams. If she doesn’t have this proof, she can also do an online assessment via the British Dyslexic Society for a small fee. It’s worth practising the theory with headphones using an online theory test practice platform that has an audio option (e.g. Theory Test Pro), because being able to listen, half reading at the same time, requires skills and a little getting used to. By practising, pupils also gain a sense of timing and often realise there’s no rush, relieving any the panic that this can bring on, and this itself helps them to read as well as listen to what’s REALLY being said.

Testing Weather

My standards check is tomorrow, and the forecast is for a storm, torrential rain and floods. Will my test be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions?

Bob, ADI

Answer: Unlike a pupil’s ‘L’ test, a Standards Check or Part 3 are not so affected by adverse weather conditions. As the instructor, you would be responsible for making the decision on whether your pupil was capable of driving and if it was unsafe to be on the road. If, after assessing the situation, you were happy to start the test, but conditions worsened, it would again be up to you to make that informed decision and, as long as that was deemed appropriate, the examiner would respect that. It is no different to you opting out of a lesson if the situation changed and it no longer felt right to continue in the same way. Depending on your pupil’s ability, it could be that you change the subject of your lesson to be focused specifically on the weather. Use it to your advantage! Structure a lesson looking at driving styles and safety margins related to high winds, flying dustbins, puddles, pedestrians and wet roads, this would be a great choice to show off your skills!

The Appreciation Society

What do you teach pupils to be polite regarding thanking other road users, but without risking steering control?

Jim, ADI

Answer: Many instructors feel quite strongly about pupils not taking a hand off the wheel to acknowledge another driver. Instead they suggest a head nod, smile or just a raised finger or two. Personally, I’m not so regimented. I’m happy for them to do whatever they feel comfortable with and capable of doing safely; they can experiment and make up their own minds. I don’t particularly care how they do
it as long as they stay safe and in control, but that’s my general take on most things. Thanking other road users is one of the first things I give responsibility to my pupils for, regardless of ability: “You’re driving, so you’re responsible for thanking people.” Remembering back to when I learnt, more than anything, it seemed so grown up and gave me a great sense of responsibility! I’ve found my pupils love it too!

Starting Again

I’ve failed my Part 3 three times. When can I reapply?


Answer: o apply to the register again, it has to be two years from your original Part 1 test pass. However, you can apply for your DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service check) before this. A DBS is valid for six months but can take time to be processed, so why not start the whole process a month or two before so that you are ready to go again at the earliest date you possibly can? Having previously been on the register, the online system won’t let you reapply so you will have to phone the DVSA in order that they can add you again manually. This has to be completed before you can book a Part 1 test.

Acting the Part

I’m doing a ‘role play’ training session with my Part 3 trainer next week. He’s asked me to teach him a turn in the road. Where do I start?

Paula, PDI

Answer: Why not start with something like… “Right Fred, let’s imagine you’re coming down this road on the way to work and the bin lorry has broken down in the middle of the road – what you going to do?”“Ummm, turn round and find another way?” “Great! Show me…”.
Make it real. Sometimes briefings/diagrams/instructor led subjects distract from the fact that we are teaching life skills such as decision making, judgment, planning, actions, behaviours and consequences, rather than just how to turn the car around in the road. I hope your trainer reflects this within what he’s hoping to see you ‘teach’. Unfortunately, some trainers will choose to act the part of an obnoxious teenager and ‘punish’ a PDI with an ‘I dunno…’ attitude, despite the PDI doing the right things. A good trainer will let you think out of the box and won’t be expecting an instructor led briefing, while still having the skills to ascertain your knowledge level and ability to teach on the subject. If a PDI set up the lesson the way I suggested, I would be delighted with a capital D!

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