The top 5 reasons for failing a Standards Check

The top 5 reasons for failing a Standards Check

Jacqui Turland, the Head Registrar, released an article via the DVSA despatch blog regarding the top 5 reasons for failing a standards check back in August 2017.

If you are taking your first standards check, then it may well be worth seeking some extra standards check training.

Here are the top 5 reasons for failing a Standards Check:

The instructor failed to adapt the lesson plan, when appropriate, to help the pupil work towards their learning goals

Here are some examples.

Consulting the pupil on what they would like to do in today’s lesson

Instructor: “What would you like to do in today’s lesson?”

Pupil: “Can we do roundabouts, please? I don’t feel very confident with them.”

Instructor: “We said earlier we were going to do T-Junctions and mirrors. I think we should do that as the subject today as it’s what you need to do.”

In this type of scenario the standards check is on course for a fail before the car has moved. The instructor has asked the pupil what they would like to cover and ignored what the pupil has requested.

Within 5 minutes of sitting in the car, the supervising examiner (SE) is anticipating a rehearsed lesson on T-Junctions and mirrors.

The instructor hasn’t really explained why T-Junctions is necessary over roundabouts nor have they tried to compromise and meet the pupil half way by implementing roundabouts.

Junctions lesson going wrong

You have mutually agreed to cover junctions in today’s lesson, in particular major to minor and minor to major. You leave the test centre and your pupil has stalled 3 times out of the last 5 junctions when stationary.

What you should do is pull up, discuss the fault and weakness, Stalling, then change the lesson plan to something like moving off and stopping on a quiet road, clutch control techniques on a quite road, hill starts/co-ordinating the car with gas/clutch on inclines etc. Depending on the type of stalling you may choose one the subjects mentioned if it’s to do with the co-ordination of the gas/clutch.

Emergency stop/manoeuvre lesson not going to plan

You have mutually agreed to practice emergency stop and on the way to driving to a suitable place your pupil has made several serious faults on the approach to junctions. You have dual controlled the pupil, spoke about the incident briefly and carried on driving to site so you can complete your marvellous emergency stop lesson you have been practising all week.

If you do this, you will more than likely fail. The examiner will expect you prioritise the problems in hand and help the pupil understand the lesson plan should be changed and you should both address the serious faults approaching the junctions. You may start the new lesson plan with a quick question and answer session and then get back on the road and help your pupil master the junctions they are finding difficult.

Remember, the examiner wants to see a lesson that is tailored to your pupil needs and requirements.

The instructor didn’t teach the lesson in a style suited to the pupil’s learning style and current ability

There are 4 main types of teaching strategies: visual, aural, read/write, kinaesthetic.

Learning Styles

The following words are taken from the despatch article written by Jacqui Turland:

You need to be able to show you can teach your pupil in a style that’s suited for them. This means using methods that work best for them. For example, when giving verbal directions, your pupil might find it easier if you referred to left and right as ‘my side’ or ‘your side’.

It’s important you give your pupil appropriate and timely feedback rather than giving it all at the end of the lesson. Having regular discussions throughout the lesson helps your pupil understand what they might have done wrong.

You should encourage your pupil to analyse problems and take responsibility for their own learning. For example, if your pupil forgot to check their blind spot before pulling out, you might:

  • Ask them if they know what they did wrong
  • explain why they need to make sure they check their blind spots next time.
Learning Styles Infographic

Every pupil that gets into your car will be different from the last one, so it’s important
to be agile in your teaching and adjust your instruction based on the 4 most common types of learning styles listed below.

  1. Activist (Kinaesthetic): An activist is the type of person who learns by actions (doing). They need to get into the action and experience what they’re trying to learn. These types of people typically have an open mind – they don’t come into situations with biases,
    like to brainstorm and they’re open to discussions and problem solving sessions.
  2. Theorist: These are learners who like to understand the theory behind an action. They enjoy following models and reading up on facts to better engage in the learning process. Theorists love reading stories and quotes and appreciate as much background information as they can get.
  3. Pragmatist: A pragmatist wants to know how to put what they’re learning into practice in the real world. They don’t like abstract concepts or games. They like to experiment with theories, ideas and techniques. They like to take the time to think about how what they’ve done relates to reality.
  4. Reflector: They learn best by watching people and thinking about what is happening. They observe from the side lines and collect data. They then take the numerous experiences they have perceived and work towards an appropriate conclusion.

If you try to teach an activist with theorist methods, they are likely to appear bored quickly.

If you teach a theorist with activist methods, they may come across quite negative.

Lastly, consider the difficulty level of the subject. Ensure that you choose a subject and route which challenges your pupil but doesn’t demotivate them. If you see your pupil struggling, adjust the route so it’s slightly easier or even take back some of the responsibility until you see an increase in confidence again.

The instructor didn’t encourage the pupil to analyse problems and take responsibility for their learning

If your pupil makes a serious error in their driving or there is an ongoing problem, you may want to pull them up and discuss some of the questions listed here in relation to the problem.

  • Who was affected?
  • What was the effect?
  • How might others interpret my driving actions?
  • What were you thinking/feeling before the action?
  • What were you thinking/feeling after the action?
  • Do you feel the problem occurred because you lacked the required skills to deal with the situation?
  • What factors contributed to the problem?
  • What alternative choices do you have?
  • What would you do next time?
  • How would you do it next time?
  • If the problem persists – what are the consequences?


Roundabout Lane Discipline

Your pupil doesn’t keep in the correct lane going ahead at a roundabout. They started in the left hand lane then encroached into the right hand lane.

Some questions you might ask are:

“Did you realise that you crossed the right hand lane on that last roundabout?”

They are likely to respond with,“no – only when you mentioned it.”

You may need to get a diagram out and ask, “what were you thinking on the approach/ going over the roundabout?” The pupil is likely to say that they were so focused on judging the traffic when they went onto the roundabout, it didn’t occur to them to keep in lane until it was too late.

“Do you know whose fault it is if you get hit from behind at a roundabout when you are waiting? Do you know whose fault it is if you collide with that poor motorbike rider minding his own business in the right hand lane?”

“Knowing what you know now, can you see how important it is to stay in your lane unless you are fully aware of what’s around you?”

“Let’s say we emerged onto the roundabout and then you noticed something drop off a trailer in front of you – what would you do to ensure it’s safe to change lanes? Did you do that on the last roundabout?” (Mirrors and shoulder glance required if there is a need to change direction suddenly.)

“Moving forwards, we need to help you keep in lane. Looking at the diagram the best thing to do is to aim for that island on the left, also, glance in your right door mirror to just check your position is good.”

On the above occasion it is very common the pupil doesn’t understand the consequences and the effects of not keeping in their lane whilst being on a roundabout. So it’s all about helping them understand the priorities, the seriousness of staying in lane and most of all ensuring they know what to do next time so it hopefully doesn’t happen again.

If you keep telling them they must stay in lane without any analysis and remedial, the problem is likely to take longer to resolve.

Roundabout Correct Lane Discipline

Mind Mapping

In some instances, you may need to mind map, which is like brainstorming a driving related problem. It can be a great way to coax more analysis out of your pupil and encourage them to think about the causes, effects and the consequences of their actions.

Depending on the pupil’s level, you may take the pen and pad/whiteboard or they might. Just be mindful you shouldn’t be doing all the thinking and writing.

There’s a time and place for mind mapping.

Here’s an example of a quick mind map to do with overtaking on bends. In this instance the mind map is exploring the effects and consequences of overtaking in dangerous situations to make progress.

Overtaking on Bends

The instructor didn’t give the pupil appropriate and timely feedback during the session

The examiner is looking to see how and when you decide to let your pupil know how they are doing and what they need to do to improve.

Many instructors get very boggled down with minor issues like the use of mirrors on the approach to a junction and then fail to deal with more serious issues like the speed or observations before entering the roundabout.

You will need to prioritise what you say and when you say it at times. If necessary, make a note on a pad and then bring it to your pupil’s attention later. Sometimes you might be giving your pupil feedback on a tricky junction and you can tell by their face and body language they are struggling to focus on driving and listening to you. If you see or sense this, back off, let them deal with the situation and then when you are on quieter road, give them the feedback.

The instructor didn’t give enough feedback to help the pupil understand any potentially safety-critical incidents

The key words to note here are ‘safety-critical incidents’.

Firstly, ask yourself, what does critical mean? The Oxford English Dictionary explains it as having the potential to become disastrous; at a point of crisis. Now that we have an understanding of the word critical, it’s safe to say that any potential safety critical incidents occurring during the lesson will need to be addressed, discussed and understood. Doing this should, hopefully, prevent the pupil from making the same fault again. The best way is to get your pupil’s full attention by pulling up by the side of the road and discussing, analysing and ensuring that your pupil understands what to do next time to avoid the same incident from happening again.


You’re driving along and your pupil suddenly brakes for a pigeon that has landed in the road. It has taken you by surprise and you emphasised to the pupil to come off of the brake and not stop. Fortunately, there is nobody behind you. There is a definite need to pull up as soon as possible and explain when you should brake in an emergency and when you shouldn’t. Explain the consequences, risks, effects on the car and most importantly what the pupil should do next time when the situation arises.

If you dismiss something like above, or aren’t thorough enough, then you certainly won’t score 3 in this area.

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