The DVSA published the guidance for examiners when assessing the new Standards Check on the 19th November 2013 and this can be found with the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adi-standards-check-guidance-for-driving-examiners
My last four articles have focused on the structure of the new Standards Check by looking at the three broad (or ‘high’) competences of:
- Lesson Planning
- Risk Management
- Teaching and Learning Strategies
Each broad competence has a number of competence indicators – there are 17 in total, four with Lesson Planning, five with Risk Management and eight with Teaching and Learning Strategies. There is a maximum of 51 points available as each competence indicator carries a maximum of 3 points. The final score will be reflected in the Grade awarded. The scoring system is:
0 = no evidence of competence demonstrated
1 = a few elements of competence demonstrated
2 = competence demonstrated in most elements
3 = competence demonstrated in all elements
Each competence indicator (also known as lower level competences) can be broken down into elements and the ADI will need to use a range of skills to ensure each of these elements is in place.
The guidance for examiners says: ‘For example, the first lower level competence, in the lesson planning section, is ‘Did the ADI identify the pupil’s learning goals and needs?’
To fully satisfy this requirement the ADI must:
- actively recognise the need to understand the pupil’s experience and background
- ask suitable questions
- encourage the pupil to talk about their goals, concerns etc. and actively listen to what the pupil has to say
- understand the significance of what they say
- recognise other indications, e.g. body language, that the pupil is trying to express something but perhaps cannot find the right words’
The guide for examiners stresses, as I have said in previous articles, that there will necessarily be an overlap amongst the competences – both lower and higher. For example, the second competence indicator under the high competence of Lesson Planning is: ‘Was the agreed lesson structure appropriate for the pupil’s experience and ability?’ It would not be an accurate assessment if the examiner records a 0 against the first competence: ‘Did the ADI identify the pupil’s learning goals and needs?’ and then a 2 or 3 against agreeing the lesson structure. Agreeing the lesson structure would have to follow as a result of having identified learning goals and needs. It is, however, noted that lesson goals need not be clearly stated at the beginning of the session and could become obvious as the lesson develops.
The guide for examiners identifies four ‘types’ of pupil that might be presented for the ADI’s Standards Check, whilst also acknowledging that these ‘types’ are just broad guides. The four types are:
- Beginner or partly trained
- Trained or test standard
- Newly qualified
- Experienced qualified
As I mentioned in my first article, there are clear situations which would result in an immediate fail. If you score 7 or less in the Risk Management competence or do not deal with a potential or actual safety critical incident appropriately then you will fail the Standards Check. If the examiner judges that the instructor is not managing safety critical situations effectively, the Standards Check could be terminated. If you fail, you will be expected to attend a second one and, if necessary, a third one before being considered for removal from the ADI Register (as is currently the situation with the Check Test).
Reflection is emphasised throughout – both for the instructor as well as the pupil. The DVSA recommend that instructors complete a reflective log and have offered a template as an example, which focuses on what went well, what did not go so well, what could be improved. The reflective log can be presented to the examiner at the start of the Standards Check but will not form part of the assessment. It would seem that the reflective log is there because it is recognised that self-evaluation is a crucial part of learning and that this is as important for the instructor as it is for the customer. Client-centred learning is all about behavioural change and change starts with self-awareness. Self-awareness is about recognising your strengths and limitations; as well as understanding how your emotional state impacts on your behaviour. When we reflect on and self-evaluate our performance we take responsibility for our learning. This, in turn, helps us empathise and therefore engage on an equal basis with our pupils.
On the actual day of your Standards Check, you may leave your customer in the car whilst you go and meet the examiner, who will want to ascertain what type of pupil you have brought – how many lessons they have had, what standard they are at, whether you have any concerns about their driving, what the goals for the lesson are. It is possible that you will have a supervising examiner also sitting in on the standards check and, if this is the case, you will ideally have been informed in advance. However, if it was not possible to inform you in advance of the Standards Check then you will be allowed ten minutes to explain the situation to your customer. If you also have a trainer or mentor with you then it is up to the supervising examiner whether or not they will still accompany the Standards Check.
You are expected to know your area well and to plan a lesson that lasts about an hour and ends up back at the test centre (in most cases) so that the examiner can take some time to consider the outcome and then debrief the lesson. You should therefore allow a further 15 minutes at the end of the one hour Standards Check lesson. The examiner may take notes during the assessment but these must be destroyed and there will be no write-up or written follow-up (even if you fail) because the Standards Check Form is sufficient to record accurately the whole assessment.
How does this fit in with coaching and client-centred learning? The guidance for examiners recognises that there are many different styles of instructor and that learning can be judged to take place as a result of instruction as well as coaching. However, there is definitely an emphasis on coaching and client-centred learning. What is clear is that the higher levels of the Goals for Driver Education (GDE) * framework cannot be addressed unless a client-centred approach is used where the learner is encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and understands how the skills they are acquiring for the driving test can be applied when driving unsupervised. There is, therefore, an expectation that driving instructors will be addressing the higher levels of the GDE * by, for example, engaging the pupil in discussion of driving situations they are likely to encounter when driving post-test – such as, with passengers in the car, at night, or when they are prone to distractions.
(* Levels 1 and 2 of the GDE focus on the skills that are assessed on the ‘L’ practical driving test; whilst levels 3 and 4 – also known as the higher levels of the GDE – look at journey-specific factors, such as choosing the mode of transport, route planning, and managing risk in terms of distractions and peer pressure – Level 3; and, how the personality of the driver – their goals, opinions, values, emotional state and characteristics – impacts on the way they handle the vehicle and the choices they make – Level 4).
For many of us, the new Standards Check will represent the opportunity to deliver a driving lesson that is an accurate reflection of the way we already teach on a day-to-day basis. For some of us, however, it will be necessary to carefully consider the skills and techniques we currently use and reflect on how well we are able to meet the two core aims of driver training: that learning must take place and value for money must be given.