Must dos in every lesson
General advice for instructors just starting out – New driving instructor tips
1. Check your pupil’s driving licence on their first lesson
Make sure you record their details such as their licence number, full name and address. In the unlikely event of an accident, you may be asked for this information. If your pupil behaves incorrectly, owes you money or you have an issue, this bread and butter information may prove to be useful.
2. Always check your pupil’s eyesight before they enter your vehicle for the first time
Your pupil must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1st September 2001 from a distance of 20 metres.
If they fail the eyesight test, you must not commence the lesson. Advise them to visit the opticians and get them booked in when they can pass the eyesight test.
Your pupil will have an eyesight test on the day of their driving test, so it is better to find out sooner rather than later.
3. Explain the basic T+Cs using the information on the progress card
Ask the pupil if they fully understand them. If they’re happy with everything, ask them to sign, print and date the cancellation policy.
You may benefit from taking a quick picture of their signature next to the T+Cs on your phone. If you are a part of driveJohnson’s driving school franchise, you can say it’s for head office purposes so they don’t think you’re acting a bit odd.
4. Ask the pupil how they would like to pay
At the beginning of the lesson always ask the pupil “how would you like to pay today?” They will often say that they need to go to the cash point. If you’re okay with that, build it into the lesson so when you pass one you stop in the middle of the lesson and they withdraw the money.
Never leave it until the end of the lesson to find out how they are paying, this could leave you running late for your next lesson or the pupil owing you money the next time you see them.
driveJohnson’s driving instructor Tom Hutchinson who provides driving lessons in Oxford say’s “As an instructor you need to be easy going and agile. Often your pupil will turn up to the lesson with no cash and need a cash point. As long as you ask at the beginning of the lesson if they need a cash point and explain to save time you will stop at one as you pass one in the lesson to avoid gobbling up their lesson time they are okay with it and of course so am I”
5. Record pupil payments
If the pupil pays you cash directly, record the payment on their progress card and ask them to sign for every lesson they have received.
You should keep one progress card yourself with payments and signatures on for your own protection. You can always say it’s a head office requirement so they don’t think your being a stickler.
In the unlikely event you have a dispute with a pupil regarding how many lessons they have paid for and how many they have received you can always refer to progress card payments section. Part of the DVSA code of conduct covers managing customers money/record keeping etc.
6. Don’t change the DVSA way
Just because you’ve passed your ADI part 3 test – don’t change your ways too much. Every 2-4 years you will receive a standards check. This is where a DVSA supervising examiner will sit in the back of your lessons and observe how you are conducting them.
Everyone has their own style of teaching but make sure it ties into the DVSA way too, as they have the right to take you off the register of ADIs if you continuously fail your standards check.
7. Keep a good lesson structure
Continuing from point 6, try to keep a good structure to your lessons and coincide with what the DVSA expect. Try using the following basic guidelines for each lesson – this is not an exhaustive list, just a basic outline and may vary slightly depending on the pupil and their requirements.
- Pupil enters the car, meet and greet
- Recap on last lesson, what do they remember?
- Agree what you are doing in today’s lesson (consult your pupil, they are the paying customer)
- Try to set/agree some goals at the beginning so the pupil has something to aim for
- Brief on subject/Q+A on subject or drive to site and then brief/Q+A
- Practical. Praise where possible and give/ask for feedback where necessary.
- If your pupil is struggling, don’t be afraid to change the subject or go back a subject. Just explain why and the benefits.
- Recap on what they have learnt in the lesson. Try to ask them first rather than you telling them what they have learnt.
- Discuss strengths and weaknesses and agree what the next lesson should be
- Give the pupil homework, research, mini tasks to practice with parents, ask them to read up on the next subject etc.
- Book them in for their next lesson
- Send them a confirmation text of their next lesson immediately after they have left the vehicle, so they have a reminder on their phone.
- Spend 2-3 minutes writing any necessary notes to remind yourself about the lesson and what you are doing next time.
8. Spare Tyre: can you change a wheel/tyre?
Always have a spare tyre repair foam kit in the car or make sure your spare tyre is road worthy. You cannot go to a driving test with a space saver wheel on with a speed restriction.
If you get a puncture in a lesson, it’s pretty embarrassing if you can’t change a tyre. You can call the AA but what if the wait is 3 hours? If you know what you are doing a wheel can be changed in just 10-15 minutes. You can also ask your pupil to watch, teach them whilst you are doing it. It’s an invaluable lesson for later on in life.
9. Partly trained pupils with test coming up
If you have taken on a partly trained pupil, be sure to check the pupil has practiced the emergency stop and they are familiar with the “show, me tell me” questions in good time (not the night before or on the pupil’s test day). These are easily taught but easily forgotten and then the pupil may blame you for covering them with little notice/time to learn.
10. Beginner pupils: where to start the first lesson?
Make sure you are familiar with the area you are starting new a pupil. A beginner pupil usually won’t mind you driving 5-7 minutes to a suitable place but if you exceed 10 minutes, they may become frustrated and think you are ripping them off. If you have no choice and you have to drive 10 minutes or more, help the pupil understand why you are driving so far. For example, so they have a better lesson with less obstructions/hazards etc.
11. Beginner pupils: make it exciting!
Always try to get your beginner pupil driving back home as early as possible as long as you are confident you have control of the lesson.
It’s a great feeling of accomplishment for them, even if you are giving them full on instruction all the way home. Sometimes you maybe able to assist them driving back home, so they are responsible for the steering, gas, brake and you are responsible for the clutch and gears whilst they are still trying to master steering.
12. Simple things make the pupil think they have achieved a lot
Getting your pupil up to 3rd at 30 mph in their eyes is much more of an achievement than spending 2 hours in a car park. Where possible try to get them up to 3rd gear on a straight road early on. The road can be dead straight with nothing on it and the pupil will still be feeling a sense of achievement.
13. Don’t know the area well? Plug the Sat Nav in!
When you first start teaching you may be unfamiliar with certain areas. Set your sat nav up to your pupils address (keep on silent) as you drive away from your pupils address the sat nav will keep redirecting, towards the end of the lesson follow the directions on the screen back to get you back to your pupils address.
14. Dead end/no through road: blag the Turn in the Road subject
In the event you accidentally go down a no through road (dead end) rather than saying you’re lost, explain it’s time to practice the turn in the road a few times.
15. Accident during a lesson, not your fault?
If you ever have an accident during your lesson which involves other driver(s) make sure you take pictures of their car and your car. Make sure the images include number plates and the surrounding areas. Don’t worry about taking close up pictures of your car (you can do that later) Make sure you take pictures from 30-50 metres away which show the surrounding area, the lane position/general accident position of cars.
Take pictures which show your car in the best possible position to prove it’s the other person’s fault.
If you have witnesses, confirm what they saw and if it’s favourable for you – take their name and phone number.
Get in touch with Anthony Johnson or Ashleigh Appleton at driveJohnson’s and they can advise you on courtesy vehicle and making an injury claim.
Anthony Johnson is also the business manager for Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors, so he regularly assists driving instructors with their accidents, making sure they are looked after and gets them the maximum compensation and loss of earnings they deserve.
Written by Anthony Johnson
Grade A - 51/51
ORDIT Registered Trainer