Sponsored by

Marmalade

Dumbstruck

Any tips to help make the conversation less awkward on the drive home following a test fail please?

Kevin (ADI)

Answer: A couple of weeks before the test, and during those last few sessions where we polish up and focus on the test itself, I ask my pupils to fast forward to their test day and predict their reactions, emotions and feelings when they pass. I ask them who they will phone or text first, who they can’t wait to tell and what they will spend the rest of that day doing. It’s a great conversation and is a clever way of talking to them about that first truly independent post test drive, where they will go, who that will be with and how different that will be from a lesson. I then ask the same question, but this time in the unlikely scenario of a test fail. Again, this is an interesting conversation and it gives me some idea of how they may react. If they say they’re likely to cry, be cross or sulk, then at least I know what to expect from them, and I can ask them what they’d want me to do: Do they think they will want to book in another test immediately? Would they want me to work out a plan before they go home? Or would they prefer to be left alone and reflect on the experience for a few days before I contact them again? It is always a difficult situation but broaching it in advance makes me feel more prepared for either scenario and be a supportive part of their journey. It also gives me a great portal into a conversation in the car on the way home, regardless of the result!

Where’s Your Head At?

I have a student who, despite making steady progress, still makes multiple random mistakes in his general driving. I’m preparing for my Part 3 and know I need to be practising picking up on and sorting out faults, but with faults so varied how can I focus on one subject and stay on topic while still picking up on the pupil’s needs?

Sully (PDI)

Answer: This is an ideal pupil to be practising the all-important instructor skills of fault identification, analysis and remedial action. Remember, it’s not about staying ‘on topic’, it’s about making the lesson appropriate to the pupil’s needs on the day, and adjusting your lesson accordingly. Get to the bottom of what’s happening and why. Start by finding out what the core of the problems are. Is he lacking knowledge, understanding and/or ability? It could be that he would benefit from going back to basics and refining some skills. Prioritise these skills rather than focusing on subjects. For example, rather than focusing on junctions, focus on car control in general. This may include clutch control, steering, gears and speed choices. These can then be brought in to improve all aspects of his driving. This should become your base structure for your teaching.

Is Your Journey Necessary?

My pupil passed today! He suffers from severe mobility issues due to a spinal condition that will worsen with time and mean he will eventually need hand controls and probably a steering ball. How much do these adaptions cost and will he need further testing after installation?

Terry (ADI)

Answer: Congratulations to him! Yes, he will need to notify the DVLA if he needs adapted driving controls. Push/pull hand controls cost between £500 – £750. If he can’t walk unaided for more than 50 metres (on his worst day) then he may be entitled to financial support. Advice is available from your

Learning Experience

If I have a pupil that has been learning with someone else, do I drive to a suitable area, so I can assess their ability first?

Phil (PDI)

Answer: This is very dependent on each individual pupil and the driving history they tell you. You should always choose an appropriate area for their level of ability, and you are relying on them in the first instance to explain what level they have reached. You need to be capable of controlling the lesson verbally, or physically if needed, if it becomes apparent their capability is not as high as you had assumed. I often start by suggesting I drive them just a short distance away with the ‘excuse’ of getting them away from the pressure of being watched by friends if outside college, or family or work colleagues if near home or work. You can also suggest that this will give them the opportunity to get used to a different car and instructor in an area that allows them to experiment without complications. By framing your reasoning like this, it avoids giving the impression of mistrust or nervous instructor syndrome! Most new pupils will be happy for you to be taking the lead with this, so trust your instinct.

Weather warning

With autumn and winter approaching, I’m wondering what we should take into account when deciding on whether to teach or cancel lessons.

Helen (ADI)

Answer: I take a number of things into account when making the decision to teach in certain weather conditions:

1) My ability to instruct
2) My pupil’s ability to follow instructions
3) The inability to control other roads users’ decisions, lack of ability or lack of experience
4) The severity of the conditions and the possibility of conditions deteriorating
4) The likelihood of my children’s school ringing and asking for them to be picked up early!

If a severe weather warning has been put out with advice to only drive if necessary, I would also use this as a learning opportunity to have a conversation with pupils about their own decision making, both now and in the future.