Check out these frequently asked questions
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
THE SPICE OF LIFE
Do you think it is best to keep a pupil on the same time and day every week, or move them around to help them experience a variety of road conditions at different times? Carol, ADI
ANSWER: Variation and experience is the ideal. However, for most teachers and students alike, diary coordination, timetables and jobs makes a certain amount of routine and regularity the reality, just to keep things manageable.
However, within a pupil’s learning journey you’ll probably find that every now and again the ‘normal’ is disrupted by other commitments and schedules, with lessons moved in order to accommodate. I don’t mind this and find it keeps both conversations and experiences fresh and varied. However, I also deliberately swap things around a little and encourage pupils to take some lessons at times of the day that most of us would recognise as offering valuable learning experience – rush hour, in the dark and on Sundays for example.
It’s particularly useful to link these to a pupil’s post-test driving needs. So, if their main journeys are going to be to and from college or work first thing in the morning, it makes sense they experience this with some guidance before doing it for the first time alone as a newly qualified driver. This is where private practice really comes into its own too.
Remember, it’s not just about experiencing the physical demands associated with different times of the day or conditions, it’s also about their own mental ability to drive, and the invaluable lesson that comes from the self-awareness of how our driving is effected by being tired, stressed, under time pressures, or when you’re just happy!
I know many instructors like to do at least one lesson at the same time as the test is booked for, but that’s totally up to you of course.
WRONG & RIGHT
I have had a pupil who recently failed her test on the bay park manoeuvre. She corrected herself a couple of times, but the examiner then stopped the manoeuvre and didn’t allow her to continue with the exercise. I thought they could correct themselves up to three times, am I wrong? Heather, ADI
ANSWER: Just to confirm – there is no limit on the number of corrections they are permitted to do on a manoeuvre. It’s all about making reasonable progress and improvement each time.
If the attempts being made are doing nothing but confirming a lack of knowledge, understanding or ability, then the examiner won’t allow this to be demonstrated again and again. If the pupil clearly understands the issue and is making sufficient efforts to rescue themselves in the correct way, they will be given adequate chances to do so.
Allowing pupils to practise correcting manoeuvres is a really valuable exercise. Giving permission to correct themselves and being skilled enough to recognise when things need fixing is, for me, even more valuable than teaching them pinpoint accuracy on the first attempt. We’ll take the ‘minor’ for correction any day!
I’m wondering about buying a spare wheel, maybe even a space saver, to keep in my car in case of emergencies. Is this something you would recommend? Dawn, ADI
ANSWER: Definitely! A space saver can’t be used on test, although it will get you to the end of your working day, or at the least to a garage. But if you needed a replacement just before a test, you’d be stuck. Check your boot or spare wheel space and if you have enough room for a full-size spare then get one. If not, then consider a space saver but perhaps consider purchasing a full-size spare to keep at home, ready for a quick change if needed.
LOUD & PROUD
My pupil has asked if he can talk out loud as he drives on his test, commentating on what he’s doing. Should I encourage this? Graham, ADI
ANSWER: If it’s something your pupil is wanting to do, then yes, encourage it. Talking out loud can be reassuring to them. Sometimes the silence on test, and the atmosphere it creates, is the thing that really affects them the most – they can over think and nervously question themselves, undermining their confidence.
Encourage your pupil to talk in a positive way. For example, ‘Check my right mirror… look for the bike I just saw and be ready for him’, rather than ‘Oh no, I missed my mirror check then’. By doing this they are thinking positively about their actions and behaviours.
It takes a bit of nerve to talk on the test and few feel brave enough. So, if it’s something they are wanting to do, I’d allow them to practise doing so as much as they can, particularly during a mock test conducted by an instructor they’re unfamiliar with so they can get a feel for what it will be like on the actual test. They are far more likely to use a coping strategy if it’s been practised beforehand and is familiar.