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How To Choose a Good Driving School and Save Money On Your Driver Training

choosing the right driving school

Struggling to choose a driving school ? Well, I’m not surprised, because they all seem to lay claim to pretty much the same thing with little or nothing to distinguish between them (except perhaps the price). Google certainly seems to struggle to choose between them, with the number 1 spot frequently being given over to the driving school with the worst reputation in the area. Perhaps you’ve already started to learn to drive but don’t seem to be making much progress. You may be beginning to worry that learning to drive may end up costing you more than you first thought, or, worse still, that you may never succeed at all. And you may well be right!

So what should you really be looking for when it comes to selecting a good driving school/trainer. Most industry experts now agree that driver training is most effectively delivered through client-centred approaches. The DVSA (the regulatory body which monitors and assesses driving instructors) certainly take this view and this is reflected in the recent changes they’ve made to the marking criteria they use to grade driving instructors. The grade awarded can be a useful guide to selecting a trainer - these can be checked on the DVSA’s Find an Instructor facility - interestingly, only 10% or so of those instructors listed have chosen to publish their grade.

But let’s delve a little more deeply and find out what good client-centred driver training should look like and how it differs from traditional instruction. The following table illustrates the main differences (from “Who’s In The Driving Seat, Ged Wilmot & Claire Wilmot):

 Traditional Instruction Client-Centred Learning 
The instructor’s role is that of primary information giver and evaluator. The instructor’s role is to facilitate learning.
The instructor is the authority figure. The learner is subordinate and regarded as an empty vessel. The instructor is the expert and the one in power, and passes knowledge and information to the learner. The learner and instructor have an equally active role in the learning process. The instructor coaches and facilitates the learner’s learning and understanding.
The focus is on what the instructor wants to do The focus is on what the learner wants/needs to cover.
The instructor chooses the topic and decides on the lesson goals without the learners input. The learner is encouraged to share their input when deciding on the lesson goals with the instructor.
The instructor talks and the learner listens. The learner is encouraged to interact in a two-way discussion.
The focus is on given directive instruction. Those learners who can learn this way will learn. The instructor engages the learner and uses a range of directive and/or non-directive methods and techniques to suit the learner’s preferred methods of learning.
The instructor monitors, identifies, analyses and corrects every mistake the learner makes. They will tell the learner where they went wrong and why, and how to correct it. The learner monitors their performance, and the instructor encourages the learner to identify and analyse any areas for improvement and to develop a strategy to solve the problem.
Emphasis is on giving the learner the right answers. Emphasis is on generating self-awareness and responsibility and helping the learner choose the most appropriate action from a range of possible options. Learning is achieved with the help of reflection and self-evaluation.
The learning environment is one-sided and contradictory. The learning environment is supportive, cooperative, and collaborative.
Emphasis is on the instructor’s syllabus and the requirements of the driving test. Emphasis is on discussing situations, issues and problems in real-life contexts relating to an individual learner. The learner is aware of the syllabus and the driving test requirements and is encouraged by the instructor to ensure they feel comfortable in all those areas.
The instructor evaluates the learner’s performance and gives feedback to the learner. The learner is encouraged to reflect on their own performance, with added feedback from the instructor.

Traditional Instruction

Client-Centred Learning

The instructor’s role is that of primary information giver and evaluator.
The instructor’s role is to facilitate learning.
The instructor is the authority figure. The learner is subordinate and regarded as an empty vessel. The instructor is the expert and the one in power, and passes knowledge and information to the learner.
The learner and instructor have an equally active role in the learning process. The instructor coaches and facilitates the learner’s learning and understanding.
The focus is on what the instructor wants to do.
The focus is on what the learner wants/needs to cover.
The instructor chooses the topic and decides on the lesson goals without the learners input.
The learner is encouraged to share their input when deciding on the lesson goals with the instructor.
The instructor talks and the learner listens.
The learner is encouraged to interact in a two-way discussion.
The focus is on given directive instruction. Those learners who can learn this way will learn.
The instructor engages the learner and uses a range of directive and/or non-directive methods and techniques to suit the learner’s preferred methods of learning.
The instructor monitors, identifies, analyses and corrects every mistake the learner makes. They will tell the learner where they went wrong and why, and how to correct it.
The learner monitors their performance, and the instructor encourages the learner to identify and analyse any areas for improvement and to develop a strategy to solve the problem.
Emphasis is on giving the learner the right answers.
Emphasis is on generating self-awareness and responsibility and helping the learner choose the most appropriate action from a range of possible options. Learning is achieved with the help of reflection and self-evaluation.
The learning environment is one-sided and contradictory.
The learning environment is supportive, cooperative, and collaborative.
Emphasis is on the instructor’s syllabus and the requirements of the driving test.
Emphasis is on discussing situations, issues and problems in real-life contexts relating to an individual learner. The learner is aware of the syllabus and the driving test requirements and is encouraged by the instructor to ensure they feel comfortable in all those areas.
The instructor evaluates the learner’s performance and gives feedback to the learner.
The learner is encouraged to reflect on their own performance, with added feedback from the instructor.

 

In short, traditional training tells you what to think whereas client-centred methods help you to understand how to think. Knowing what to think may be enough to pass a driving test. Understanding how to think definitely will be enough and more importantly will give you transferrable skills that last a lifetime. Or to put it another way, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Unfortunately, many driving instructors still seem to prefer the traditional approach. Even some of those who have been awarded a high grade have been heard admitting that they actually don’t use these new-fangled methods in their day-to-day teaching. Some of them even take the view that client-centred and coaching approaches just don’t work in practice - and perhaps they don’t for them. Yet, ironically, in their marketing, most driving schools claim allegiance to some form of client-centred approach, largely because they think it’s what their clients and the DVSA want to hear - statements such us “lessons tailored to individual requirements” can be found on virtually every piece of driving school advertising out there.

At Miles Ahead, not only do we promise client-centred-learning, we actually do deliver it. Having taken training with some of the leading proponents in this field, most significantly with Colin Scott at Driving Innovation, we actually know how to make client-centred approaches work, and we believe that when used in the right way, this is the most effective and efficient form of driver training available. We guarantee that with this type of approach you’ll pass your driving test more easily, you’ll be a better a driver in the long-term, and you’ll end up paying less overall. If you think your driving lessons are looking more like the more traditional sort and aren’t very client-centred, then trust us, you’re behind already. If you’re interested in finding a better way forward, why not give us a call - we’ll be only too happy to help.

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Miles Ahead Driver Training

Miles Ahead is an independent driving school in Barry providing driving lessons and intensive courses of the highest quality to students of all ages and abilities in the Cardiff, Penarth, Barry & Vale areas. With an A-grade instructor, an impressive pass rate and a modern, student-centred approach, you’ll be on the road in no time. Excellent value for money, from £22.50 per hour.  Learn more