Fully qualified Approved Driving Instructor with over 18 years experience.
Catering for all levels of ability, from complete beginner to Pass Plus.
A very daunting time for any new starter is the very first lesson, not knowing what to expect, being scared of smashing the car into a telegraph pole, being unsure of what and how the lesson will go and meeting the instructor for the first time.
Let me reassure you first of all, the pupil will not crash. Dual controls are fitted to the training vehicle and if necessary I can control the car entirely from the passenger seat. I am also thinking several steps ahead of the pupil and can see exactly what's going to happen before the pupil does. That means if the pupil is getting into difficulty then I will step in to correct the problem before anything dangerous occurs.
On the pupils first lesson, I would introduce myself, and after cheking their Provisional Driving Licence and their eyesight then I would drive the pupil to a quiet area, explain some of the important rules and regulations the pupil needs to be aware of, then we would go through all the main controls of the car and find out what current knowledge the pupil has so we can build on that. Once we have been through the controls I need to explain what the cockpit drill is so that the pupil is comfortable and can reach all the controls correctly. There is a great deal to take in on the first lesson, and any information that is forgotten can be recaped in later lessons. Once we have covered both topics I can explain a basic routine to help the pupil move the car and bring it to a safe stop. As the pupil progresses we will also start to look at basic junction work. As for future lessons we simply continue to develop the basic skills at the pupils own pace. Do not expect to be a great driver after only 2 hours! driving is extremely hard, it looks so easy when you watch others doing it, but it takes a great deal of experience and hours of practice.
From the very beginning the lessons are structed by use of a training record (similar to the DVSA's Driver's Record) which is broken down into 37 topics, which are closely linked to an examiners test sheet. It covers all main situations on the road, ranging from moving off safely to reversing into a car-park bay. The topics are then covered over time and each topic is recorded with a date and grade of how the pupil is managing to deal with the topic.
- Grade 1 The skill has only just been introduced.
- Grade 2 The pupil needs full instruction in order to complete the topic.
- Grade 3 The pupil needs less help and more prompting.
- Grade 4 No help and occaisional prompting.
- Grade 5 The pupil deals with the topic with no help or assistance.
As the lessons progress the pupil will gain knowledge and experience so their ability to complete the task will improve and as this happens, the pupil progresses through the list of topics until they have all been introduced to a grade 3 level. At this stage the pupil knows the basics, it's time to build up the pupil and try and get them to complete the tasks with less and less help, helping the pupil to boost the topics towards the goal of grade 5.
Nearly all pupils hit a learning plateau around the grade 3-4 level where they don't feel they are improving, but as it all falls into place and the pupil achieves a grade 4 level its now time to start thinking about booking a practical test as they reach for grade 5 level. I will not allow a pupil to go for a test until they are at the required level, nor will I force a pupil into going for a test until they themselves feel they are ready for the test regardless of what level they are at. Afterall, they need to feel comfortable within themselves, regardless of what I think as it's them doing the test on the day with no help or assistance in any way.
Finally the day of the test comes and hopefully (fingers crossed) the pupil performs to their maximum ability and they get that most illusive of things...a 1st time pass!
One of the most critical influences on a test result is simply down to how well the pupil settles with their nerves. So there is no shame in not passing first time, that shouldn't be the target of the driving lessons. What we should really be aiming for is to achieve a safe, thoughtful, careful and observent driver capable of dealing with all road situations for the rest of their driving life.
...Not simply a nerve racking 45 minutes with an examiner sat next to them.
Would you rather be a poor driver who passes 1st time or a safe driver who passes 2nd or even 3rd time?