When it comes to livelihood, what is the driving force behind our actions?
It seems that my previous article about how to qualify as an ADI (Needle & Thread – March 2019), whipped up quite a stir up and aroused emotions and debate in the industry because whilst it highlighted what you need to concentrate on in a Part 3 or Standards Check lesson, it also highlighted how the less ethically minded can exploit the whole ADI training process. I’m not the only ADI trainer who has been asked about the viability of such a scheme of training, or has had the job of taking on a PDI who has been failed by dubious training methods and ethics deployed by another ‘trainer’.
I’d like to think that most ADI Ttrainers do what we do, not only as business people trying to make a good living, but because they want to do something worthwhile, helping other develop a new career, whilst also striving to raise standards, levels of ability, attitudes and skills of new drivers; professionalism and ethical standards combined to produce ‘safe drivers for life’.
In the Room
I argued that the PDI should concentrate on playing it safe with their choice of lesson in the Part 3, but I have been accused of advocating a course of action that could leave new ADIs lacking the variety and level of skills to help their pupils once qualified. Not only that, the general consensus of opinion was that I didn’t care about quality training or post-test road safety. In fact, I suggested that if PDIs were struggling with the Part 3, they should find a trainer who would help them concentrate on one particular lesson to get through the Part 3 test, and gave an example of such a lesson. Theoretical knowledge and driving skills should have already been covered, checked and deemed good enough long before this point of preparing for the Part 3 test is even considered.
Let’s be real here, money talks and, like power, it can corrupt too. It is an age-old conundrum, whether the free market is capable of producing the best results for society, or whether it is undermined by the desire for profit and gain. Is business efficiency an immediate monetary equation, or should it be based on more than that, taking in the effects on general social costs and progress. Some would say that the changes to the Part 3 test a year or so ago made it far easier to undermine general quality controls, allowing the candidate to dictate what they are assessed upon and, they could in theory, just learn the skills for that one lesson and pass the test to be a fully qualified ADI. So, just as when we as ADIs face pressure from parents and pupils to get them through the test in the shortest possible time for the lowest cost, it is even more incumbent on us to ensure everyone resists the pressure to undermine our ethical and professional standards.
At the same time, there are many PDIs who are training to become instructors but are struggling to pass the Part 3 test. This could be due to poor training or that they are poor candidates for the job. Taking an uncynical view, most trainers try their best, but the low pass rates imply that, for too many, their best is not proving good enough to get their clients through the Part 3 with ease. But this may not be a fair reflection on the standard of overall training they are giving, but rather how they are training their candidates for the Part 3. They have probably done all the hard work, created potentially good teachers with a thorough grounding in the driver training curriculum, but the lesson chosen to show-off the PDIs skills to the examiner is fraught with potential complications, or the candidate wants to show off all their skills in one lesson only to lose the thread, let alone the point of the lesson.
The solution is to pick a simpler lesson, less liable to be adversely affected by situations outside of a candidate’s control, while keeping the teaching simple and effective. After all, this is an assessment of the ability to teach in an effective, safe and controlled way. It is not an assessment of a PDIs encyclopaedic knowledge of driver training. And in a stressful, nerve racking test situation that a future career stands on, you want them to avoid unnecessary and unhelpful challenges.
Mice or Men
While we must be wary of the opportunity for the Part 3 system to be abused, with candidates learning the bare minimum, concentrating on one ‘show’ lesson in order to pass the test, saving them time and probably money too, it does not mean we have to throw everything into the Part 3, including the circus tent. The test is not about proving a candidate knows everything and more, it’s about proving they have the appropriate teaching skills and knowledge required for that particular lesson.
Trainee instructors must be given the skills to teach effectively, but more than that, know what and how to teach the full curriculum needed before they even get to the Part 3 test. There is no test in itself for this, though Parts 1 & 2 go some way to assessing this, so it is up to us as individual ADI Trainers to ensure this level of expertise has been achieved and then and only then, should they choose and prepare the lesson they need to give for the Part 3 assessment.
Good business sense means working as efficiently as possible within the governing rules and regulations. Good professionalism means we do more than this, going over and above what is tested, providing highly skilled, knowledgeable teachers.
With the Standards Check or Part 3, with your or their financial future under scrutiny over the course of a single hour, it is about making sure that the examiner is confident in the teaching ability on show, and teaching what is appropriate for that lesson, no more no less.