Most learner drivers will, at some point on their learning curve, crave the advice, judgement and (perhaps most importantly) dual controls of a qualified driving instructor. But how do you go about choosing the right one from the hundreds that are offered to you? What do all those abbreviations and acronyms stand for? And how can you get the best deals on driving lessons?
TheDrivingTests.co.uk is here to help on all those counts. From our Qualified Instructor Search to our lowdown on driving schools, we’ve got the know-how for your driving pow-wow.
You have to consider what ‘good’ means. For some, it’s an instructor who gives lots of encouragement; for others it’s someone who gives more constructive criticism. Some people prefer male instructors; others will want a woman teaching them. It’s difficult, until you actually have a lesson with someone, to know if they’re the right instructor for you.
The main point we’re making, though, is that they should be right for you. So if you have a lesson with one company and decide you don’t like the person teaching you, ask for someone else. Or swap companies. There’s nothing wrong with this! At the end of the day, you are paying them for a service, and if you’re not getting the right service for your needs, then you need to look elsewhere.
You ask. ADI, DSA… what do they even mean?
Well, ADI stands for Approved Driving Instructor, and these are people who basically have government authorisation to teach driving to other people. It means they’ve passed various tests and exams to prove that they’re of a sufficiently high quality to be allowed to teach.
There are plenty of driving instructors who aren’t ADI approved, too. They’re just as eligible to give you lessons as an ADI instructor, and will sometimes cost you less than an ADI instructor – but with an ADI you’ve got a bit of a guarantee, in that you know they’ve been trained to certain standards. It’s a bit like choosing between a dentist with bare walls and a dentist with walls covered in qualifications. You might pay more for the second dentist, but you know he’s probably worth it.
The DSA, on the other hand, is the Driving Standards Agency – basically the motoring branch of the government. They set the theory and practical tests, write the Highway Codes, uphold the rules of the road, and also oversee the training of ADIs. Don’t get them confused with the DVLA (the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) – those guys are simply the paperwork end of the DSA, and are only interested in your licence.
It has long been a tricky choice between a local, independent driving instructor and a mainline, national driving school. By ‘driving school’ we mean companies such as the AA, BSM (which stands for the British School of Motoring, in case you were wondering), Bill Plant and RED.
The schools offer a nationwide service, and for many people the presence of a known brand name is a definite comfort. They can also often be slightly cheaper than their independent counterparts, with special introductory rates such as 5 lessons for £60, or the first hour free. However, it’s worth pointing out that driving schools are usually run on a franchise basis, with each instructor existing in their own right and simply trading under the brand name.
Local independent driving instructors, on the other hand, all exist in their own right (which goes without saying, really) and therefore the quality of tuition and the price you pay can vary dramatically. On the plus side, however, is the advantage that independent instructors are often much more flexible on times, locations and pick-ups/drop-offs than the school franchise instructors, and they can also offer some money-saving deals such as the first hour free. You also get a much greater allowance in choosing the exact person you want teaching you, and you can easily opt for an instructor who is (for example) female, or who is of a similar age to you, if that is what you want.
If you’re interested in seeing what schools and instructors are available in your area, use our postcode-powered Instructor Search.