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.

Cold Feet

My feet are freezing! How can I keep my feet warm while teaching without having the heating on full blast and my pupils finding it too hot?
Marie, ADI

Answer: Firstly, the obvious answer is layer up on socks! However, the tighter your shoes, the colder your feet will get. So, one thin layer then one thicker layer perhaps. There is certainly some truth in ‘the better the quality, the warmer the sock’, so might be worth some extra investment. Secondly, your pupils may be suffering from frozen feet too but aren’t admitting it! They may be delighted if you suggested turning the heating on, aimed at your feet, then you can both avoid suffering unnecessarily, in silence! Many instructors find that having the heating on but keeping the window open a crack allows a source of fresh air without getting too cold. Make sure you get out of the car between lessons and stamp up and down, or go for a short walk to get the circulation flowing and the warm blood back to your toes, and it’s good for your back too. Sitting still for long periods can make you feel much colder. Fur lined boots will help but make sure you still have control. Some of the ‘Ugg’ type boots aren’t great on the pedals, so be aware of pupils sporting this type of footwear too.

Cover Call

I’m about to start Part 3 training and don’t want to take out a ‘pink licence’. What are my insurance options when it comes to training both with my trainer driving during sessions, or the one or two pupils I may take on and teach for free?
Rob, PDI

Answer: If you’re planning on putting dual controls in your car and teaching for free, then you will need driving instructor insurance because of controls will be classed as a modification of your car. There are a number of companies who will insure PDIs without a pink trainee licence, you will just need to ring and check (see the driving instructor insurance provider adverts in this magazine). However, it’s worth considering asking for some quotes with a pink badge and see if that gets you a cheaper price. Then weigh up the pros and cons of that cheaper rate compared to now having to commit to the 40hrs pre-licence and 20hrs post-licence of training, counteracted by the one or two pupils who could now be charged. Adding any costs accumulated from your sponsor. Your other options are to perhaps teach one or two pupils in their own cars (make sure they have their own insurance of course) or look into hiring (or your pupil hiring) a dual controlled car by the hour. Your driving instructor trainer may also have some solutions, perhaps using his car. Alternatively, you could look at adding your trainer and one or two pupils to your own
current policy. In the end it’s so dependent on your situation, your quotes and your long-term plans. So you’ll have to do some research, make some calls, ask some questions and do the maths!

Keeping it in the Family

I’m thinking of taking my daughter to my Part 3 test. I’m teaching her to drive and it seems to be going well. Would she make a good pupil?
Zena, PDI

Answer: Use the pupil you feel will best work for you and your ability to demonstrate good instructor skills and the 17 competencies. If you can visualise the lesson being fun, safe, informative, progressive, relevant and correct, then that’s the lesson and the pupil to be showing off. Whether she’s your daughter or not will make no difference to the examiner. As you prepare for your test, try to have at least two or three of your training sessions with her and your trainer so she can get used to having someone in the back, and your trainer can help prepare you both, as a team, for the test. But be aware of over preparing yourselves and the pressure she may feel to perform for you. Resist the urge to be out there day and night going over and over things together. Keep it as real as you can, despite her being your daughter.

The Rate of Progress

Generally, would you expect a pupil to be able to drive home after their first lesson?
Bexley, ADI

Answer: This depends on so many factors – your pupil, the area, the conditions, what’s been covered in your first lesson, to name but a few. I find that after an hour or so with a pupil, I’m usually able to gauge their ability to drive home based on how I have felt they have been able to follow an instruction. If I know my area, my car, the route and my own ability to support verbally (and physically if needed) and I’m confident it’s right for that pupil, then it could be that they drive home. Take into account all the factors you can, including the time of day, the weather and also your own ability. If I have the slightest concern, on my part or theirs, then they don’t. In the end there are no rules, keeping safe is the main thing.

Perfect Timing

Just wondering if there is a best time to encourage pupils to book a test slot for – are there any days or times you would avoid or recommend?
Wayne, ADI

Answer: I think there is some truth in the saying that if a pupil is truly ready to take a test, they should be capable of driving in the traffic conditions regardless of the time of day. I don’t really buy into the ‘avoid the bin collections and school runs’ mentality. I realise many instructors do recommend certain slots for their own, personal reasons. If you have school run responsibilities, or caring commitments, then of course it makes sense to avoid those times that would then mean you are having to find childcare. For example, I encourage my pupils to avoid the first two or three slots because we live a fair distance from town and it allows travel time, morning traffic and then some pre-test driving, otherwise it would mean a very early start indeed! I have a colleague who works a night shift in another job, so he asks pupils to either book the first test slot or the last meaning he can take them to test either before going to bed or after he’s slept. You can see, it’s all personal. You might also consider that at this time of year it’s often wise to avoid the early slots in order to minimise the chance of the test being cancelled for ice or poor light. It’s also worth discussing your pupil’s needs too. If they aren’t a ‘morning person’ they may prefer an afternoon slot. Alternatively, if they are nervous, waiting all day may not be a great idea to them and thy would prefer to get it over and done with as early as possible.