Honestly, looking for a driving instructor is a minefield. It’s really not easy.
And that’s not through a lack of finding them. They’re in local ads, on Google – and even on social media platforms. Driving instructors are literally everywhere. But just how can you tell if they’re any good?
Is price a factor?
💰 If only it was as easy as price. Logic dictates that the most expensive instructors should be the best and the cheapest the worst. But it really is not that easy. It is true that some of the best driving instructors charge the highest prices, but equally there are some high-priced instructors who are just good at marketing (or very brave!).
Likewise, there are some great driving instructors offering cheaper driving lessons and some absolutely desperate ones offering them at cut price, too. Often, some of the best driving instructors charge cheap prices because (while they are good instructors), they are not so good at marketing.
One of the highest qualified instructors I know is currently considering finding another job because they can’t find enough work – yet some very bad instructors are fully booked with no availability.
Driving schools vs the independent
You can’t rely this as a factor…
🚗 A ‘franchised’ driving instructor works for a larger school, but that doesn’t mean the instructor is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. With a school, you may have more chance of transferring to another instructor if you don’t like your current one. An ‘independent’ is normally a one-man-band driving school who markets themselves. Often these can appear as being a larger driving school with multiple instructors, but in fact it’s just one person. There are many great independent driving instructors and a whole lot of very bad ones.
…but my mate says
💬 Referrals are a good guide. Asking friends who they use (or have passed with) and reading reviews about an instructor can help you ensure you’re getting a good one – but this can go wrong.
What works for one learner doesn’t always work for another. We all have different learning styles and if your driving instructor is the ‘one size fits all’ type (and if you can’t learn using their methods) then problems can occur.
Don’t despair – help is at hand
So, is there light at the end of the tunnel? Well yes.
There are things you can do to find out a little more about your driving instructor before you book lessons. First of all, your driving instructor should present themselves as professional from the outset.
- Did they ask you questions when booking?
- Did they sound interested in you, finding out things like whether you’re at college?
This all helps build a picture as to the type of learner you are – and as such the instructor should have the skills to adapt to your style of learning. If you called a national driving school, the individual driving instructor should call you before the driving lesson – or better still as soon after booking to speak to you personally.
🚨🚨 No call? Alarm bells should be ringing!! 🚨🚨
1. Please don’t shout at me
Does the driving instructor lessons seem like they’re always shouting at you on lessons?
Often this isn’t ‘shouting,’ but they are just ‘telling’. But then ‘telling’ that seems like ‘shouting’ is, in effect, ‘shouting’. Are you with me? 🗣️
⛔ Driving instructors should never do this. Instead, proper coaching methods should be used – they should be asking you questions. All instructors should be trained in the art of making the lessons feel a conversation rather than being ‘told off’.
🚨🚨 Feel like you’re being told off? I’m hearing alarm bells again!! 🚨🚨
2. “…Sorry I got held up, AGAIN!!”
⌚ Your driving instructor should arrive on time for lessons and finish on time too. OK, occasionally things happen, but it’s unlikely to be more than once in a whole series of driving lessons. Make sure your instructor isn’t shaving off five minutes or so at the end of each driving lesson.
🚨🚨 Is your driving instructor prompt? Can I hear something ringing? 🚨🚨
3. Time will tell
Does your driving instructor offer the optimum 2 hour driving lesson?
There are many academic reasons why the 2 hour driving lesson is best option for learners. Your lesson should be broken down into 3 separate mini-lessons where the task demands suit you. We find that pupils will require around a third fewer hours, meaning they pass quicker using this method.
Now, some will disagree with me on this, but trust me – I have a Master’s Degree in education, am a qualified teacher (Cert.Ed) and I have a whole host of experience and research projects behind me.
Many instructors will say “I prefer to do xxtime (eg 90 min) driving lessons.” The clue here is in the “I prefer.” It’s not because it helps the learner, but because that’s what they prefer.
And while the 2 hour lesson might appear expensive, you will save money in the long-run, research shows that you’ll pass in fewer hours and you will pass quicker.
Of course, there are occasions where a learner might have an issue with 2 hours, but this can easily be identified by the instructor and they can change the duration. In 15 years teaching learners I had no more than five pupils do 1 hour driving lessons.
I have heard pupils say “I find a 2 hour driving lessons boring.” Well, that’s because your instructor is making it boring. Driving lessons shouldn’t be boring – they should be fun.
🚨🚨 Is your driving instructor boring? Alarm bells again!! 🚨🚨
4. Nice car, gov
You can usually judge an instructor by their car.
Your driving instructor’s car should look professional, too. It should be clean and free from paperwork. I have been in instructors’ cars that have had no less than FIVE different discarded takeaway wrappers in – some even had the remains of the food inside them 🤢.
🚭 The car should not smell of smoke (or anything else offensive). On a driving test, if a driving school car smells of cigarette smoke, the examiner has the right to refuse to do the driving test in it.
🚨🚨 Is your instructor’s car looking professional? If not, well, hopefully you’re getting the idea by now!! 🚨🚨
5. OMG they’re on the bloody phone
📵 Your driving instructor should NEVER EVER use their phone to call, text or for anything on a driving lesson.
Apart from it being a criminal offence for a driving instructor (or anyone supervising a learner) it is highly unprofessional. Your time is paid for by you and not for your driving instructor to share selfies, jokes or anything else on social media, or deal with other bookings or amending other pupil’s lessons. Almost every day I see driving instructors on their phones whilst giving tuition – and if that’s their attitude, then what is it to your safety while in the car?
🚨🚨 Is your driving instructor using their phone at all? Alarm bells have rung!! 🚨🚨
6. Review everything
If none of your friends have any recommendations for you, a great way to find out about an instructor is to read review on independent sites such as Facebook or Google.
Another good thing to do is to ask if you can have a 2-hour trial lesson because many driving schools do this at a reduced rate. They do this because they are very confident that you will choose them after the trial. They can be a little bit more expensive after, but you will save a lot of money, worry and time in the long term. Remember never be afraid to change instructor if anything does not feel right. And if you do, you won’t be alone.
ℹ️ Remember this: on average pupils change their instructor twice before finding the right one. But follow the tips above to ensure you get it right first time.
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.