This is the second in a series of articles around coaching and how the new Standards Check encourages a client-centred approach in our driver training.
The new Standards Check, which was introduced on 7th April 2014, assesses ADIs in three broad areas of:
- Lesson Planning
- Risk Management
- Teaching and Learning Strategies
- Did the trainer identify the pupil’s learning goals and needs?
- Was the agreed lesson structure appropriate for the pupil’s experience and ability?
- Were the practice areas appropriate?
- Was the lesson plan adapted, when appropriate, to help the pupil work towards their learning goals?
Did the trainer identify the pupil’s learning goals and needs?
This is all about goal setting. The goal needs to be agreed by the pupil. This is done in the belief that the pupil knows best what they need to learn and achieve in each lesson. This might sound a strange thing to say if you are focused on technical skills and control of the vehicle. However, our behaviour is always motivated by our thoughts and feelings and individually we all think and feel very differently from the next person. The pupil might be reluctant initially to state their goals for a lesson because he or she may not know what they want to get out of a lesson. However, this is part of the learning curve every pupil is on – it is not just about learning how to control the vehicle, it is also about learning how their thoughts and feelings impact on their behaviour and learning how to regulate and manage their thoughts and feelings so that their behaviour is safe. One of the important first steps in this process is making choices.
Driving instructors often express reservations about allowing the pupil to choose what they want to do in a lesson because it interferes with what they are used to doing and the syllabus they want to work through. If you are focused on the driving test then you will find this process difficult. However, whilst you are practising goal setting it is okay to stick with your syllabus and work on getting the pupil to define what they want to achieve by the end of the lesson; or, how they want to feel; or what they most want to improve. You could, for example, say, ‘Okay, so today we are going to look at the Turn in the Road, what would you like to achieve by the end of the lesson?’
Was the agreed lesson structure appropriate for the pupil’s experience and ability?
This competency is closely tied in with the previous one about setting a goal for the session. Having asked, ‘What would you like to achieve by the end of the lesson?’ the next question might be, ‘How do you want to do this?’ It is important that, having started to give the pupil responsibility for their learning, you don’t snatch it back from them by getting out your presenter and assuming they need a briefing. It is often inappropriate for the pupil’s experience and ability anyway to give a briefing. Many people already know everything they need in order to turn the car around – and it depends on the goal they set for themselves. For example, if the pupil says that they want to be able to turn the car around in three there may be no need to give a briefing that includes observations and control. They may simply want to have a go and see how they get on. This is then matched to their experience and ability.
Were the practice areas appropriate?
This is where you rely on your experience and expertise. It is important that you ensure the practice areas are appropriate and you may have to guide the pupil in this so that if they want to choose the area themselves you decide if it will be appropriate for their experience and ability. The conversation might go like this:
ADI ‘What would you like to do today?’
Pupil ‘Could I do a 3-point turn?’
ADI ‘Do you have a reason for saying that?’
Pupil ‘Yes, I was watching my brother turning the car round the other day and thought I would like to have a go at that.’
ADI ‘What would you like to achieve by the end of the lesson?’
Pupil ‘I would just like to get the car turned round.’
ADI ‘Okay, how do you want to do this?’
Pupil ‘Well, do you think I could just have a go? I could show you what my brother did.’
ADI ‘Yes, that’s fine. Do you want me to give you directions to a suitable area because it’s too busy here to do it?’
Pupil ‘Yes please.’
ADI ‘There will be a couple of roundabouts to deal with on the way. Would you like some help from me to deal with these?
Pupil ‘Yes please.’
Was the lesson plan adapted, where appropriate, to help the pupil work towards their learning goals?
This is the competency that some people might find most different from what is currently expected on the Check Test. At the moment, if the pupil commits a serious driver error on the way to carrying out the objective for the lesson (the turn in the road) then the instructor should change the objective and focus on the serious fault. With the new Standards Check that would be the same as snatching the responsibility back from the pupil and switching onto the instructor’s agenda. It is important to keep the balance of responsibility sitting with the pupil because we know that people learn best and most effectively when they are in charge of their learning.
Imagine that on the way to carrying out the turn in the road, the pupil positions incorrectly on the approach to a roundabout. Realising too late that they need the next lane to the right, they are about to steer to the right but you grab the wheel and stop them from moving because you have seen a car in that lane. You now instruct them through the roundabout and manage the route so that they can continue to head for the location agreed to be able to work towards achieving their learning goals.
In the previous conversation you will have noticed that the instructor already explained there would be a couple of roundabouts to deal with on the way and the pupil asked for help. The goal for the lesson relates to turning the car round in the road. If you could have carried out this manoeuvre where you were then that is what you would have done. However, it required a drive. Therefore, it is your responsibility to keep the car safe and ensure that the pupil can have the best possible chance of achieving their goal. If they are not even allowed to try out the manoeuvre in the first place then it is a reflection of the fact that you have not done your job properly and kept to your part of the agreement.
Stepping in and taking control in order to keep the car safe is part of adapting the lesson plan, where appropriate to help the pupil work towards achieving their learning goals.
My next article will look at the second broad area that will be assessed on the new Standards Check: Risk Management.