I had my Standards Check on April 13 2017 at 2pm in Ashford, Kent.
My client ? was my daughter I taught her to drive and she passed her test 3 years ago. She has her own unique learning style like so many people. She is also dyslexic and has dyspraxia and add further to my challenge she had a cold and had been skiing for a week which has made her tired. She rarely drives as she studies in Leeds and car shares with her brother when at home.
My target was 51/51 and will always be as I like to try to achieve the best score that I can. I had been dreading this day because like so many others I have to deal with my own personal issues around being examined and I had suffered from butterflies in my stomach all week. I knew how to manage these nerves on the day because I have practiced many techniques to quell nerves and shared some of them on my Facebook live videos, this reassured me but just like others I don’t like tests and I don’t enjoy being assessed. A little bit of nerves is supposed to be good but I much prefer when I totally confident, I think my own personal pressure was getting to me.
I do though believe the SC is necessary and it is not about what I like and I accept I need to demonstrate that I am capable to give tuition to enable me to stay on the ADI registrar as it has always been that way and I think it helps keep us all keep on our toes.
I had taken Rachael out driving for about an hour about 2 weeks previous and we had discussions about what she wanted to cover in the lesson and then ruled out 2 of the 3 possibilities as she feels she would have liked her skills developing in city centre traffic similar to the roads in Leeds and London and also busy fast flowing Motorway driving but again the conditions locally would not be the challenge she would be looking for, the 1/3rd option was changing speed especially slowing down when moving from rural to town.
Rachael went on a skiing holiday the week before the SC. I had prepared by producing a mind map of what I planned we would do, including the route and potential learning outcomes as Rachael struggles to slow down in time for changes of speed and enjoys speed. I have an adrenaline junkie for a daughter lol. I also checked that my plan matched the standards required. I reconfirmed with her that the goal was to be able for her to manage her correct speed entering a change of speed limit when I met her about ½ an hour before the SC to avoid any surprises. Rachael drove in my car to the test centre as her brother was using her car and as she had learnt to drive in my previous BMW she was not entirely unfamiliar with it. She chose to drive in comfort mode over eco or sports mode as this was most similar to her own car.
When we arrived, we went upstairs and met the SE who I didn’t know but who I had heard of, they were pleasant. I introduced the SE to my daughter and then asked Rachael to wait in the car. The SE said we can all go straight to the car but I explained that I would like to give an outline of the lesson plan and also outline her learning difficulties especially the fact that if I overloaded her with information she would not be able to cope with her own driving. I did this on the walk down the stairs and to the car. I would like to have said they seemed interested but it didn’t appear so, they were keen to get started and obviously, time is a factor.
They opened the driver’s door and explained to Rachael that she should not worry about them sitting in the back. Once the SE was in, I then got in and they said they would like to be back at the test centre by 2:50pm.
I composed myself and then made Rachael my focus as best as I possibly could. I started by asking Rachael what she would like to learn and achieve. Rachael re-stated her goals and we had a brief chat about how she would achieve these and it was decided that she would start off just mentioning speed limits and talking through what she was doing, this worked well but was dropped from time to time to focus on other driving tasks. My objective was to get her to think about her speed for conditions as well as the change of speed limit and what could affect her speed, for example state of mind, lateness etc and I brought this in later in the lesson when we stopped for a feedback session about 12 minutes in.
She stated that she did not want too much interference from me as she finds information hard to process when trying to concentrate. I checked with her exactly what help she would need to clarify what help she was expecting and she said if I thought I could help then please step in, I said I am not mystic meg and she should ask for help if she needed it. I didn’t mention I had dual controls as she was a full license holder but I did give her full responsibility.
The route was suitable for her experience and started in a large parking area 10mph and then moved on to railway station area 20mph, 30mph for around 400 yards and then 40mph dual carriageway for around a mile and 2 roundabouts moving onto national speed limit D/C with one roundabout slowing down to a 40pmh and another roundabout, back to single carriageway 40pmh for about a mile switching back to national for 2 miles and then a change of speed limit into a village 30pmh parking in a car park. The route was then done in reverse back to the test centre. There was a reasonable amount of change of speed limits and hazards along the way which would cause her to change speed.
We set off and we hadn’t gone further than a few 100 yards and a group of young lads walked across our path at a skateboard park, she changed upto 2nd gear on approach to the lads. We paused in the car park and had a short conversation, I asked Rachael to mention when she sees a hazard developing to help me check that she has seen it and then we drove on. She started to mention what we would describe as developing hazards and she maintained her speed well and got up to 40mph smoothly. She dealt with the first roundabout we came to fine, adjusting her speed to slow to flow. The next roundabout we had to come to a stop and then she gave way to a bus who approached from the right and she waited. I asked her if she would normally have waited and she said no and so I said next time just take the space as she can out accelerate a stationery bus. We moved on to a national speed limit D/C and Rachael started to overtake no problem but then became unsure of where she was going at the next roundabout and we were in lane 2 so I advised her ahead and I watched her check her left mirror as she was now intending to move back into the left lane it was quite congested and there was no suitable gaps, I instructed her too stay in the lane she was in. I asked if she knew that she could go ahead from lane 2 and she replied yes and I also asked if she would do that normally and she confirmed that she did, so the next question was why and she said because the examiner was in the back she thought he would want to see that. I had a brief chat jokingly with the examiner and blamed them but I also went on to discuss how different circumstances change behavior ie being observed and I thought don’t I just know that (smiling on the outside, crying on the inside). She took the space well at the next roundabout, even with a car approaching that was closer than the bus, it was perfectly safe. I had also spoken to her about her intermittent use of signals, typical FLH didn’t always bother especially leaving roundabouts and prompted her that it would be useful. We then approached a change of speed going back down to 40mph but this was easy as it was followed by a roundabout shortly afterwards and so she had no choice. We are now on a single carriageway with a 40mph sign and Rachael points out that the car in front is accelerating away from her and is clearly not doing 40pmh. I use this as an example and we discuss how much progress they will make and they are held up by a car in front turning right about ½ mile further on. The road then changes to national speed limit single carriageway with a variety of bends, for local ADIs I took the road from the test centre to Ham Street village car park. On approach to Ham Street it is downhill moving out of a shaded wooded area and the change of speed limit is not noticeable early and there are no clear indication of entering a village as the speed limit sign is at the beginning of a bend and well outside the actual village. Rachael was just over 30mph maybe 33mph tops and she was convinced that she was doing 30mph and we had a light-hearted discussion about me being right and then the examiner spoke and said they agreed with me. Well at least they were engaged.
She brought the speed back to 30mph and we drove through the village and I directed her to stop in the car park on the right and I guided her to drive into a space she could drive out of. I asked her what went well, what didn’t go so well and what she would differently when we drive back again. I also scaled her to see how well she thought she had done with 0 being crap and 10 being excellent. She stated 6/7 and we examined how that would be improved. I didn’t give her much feedback as she was very accurate with her feedback and solutions to improvement and I agreed with her. I also said that I would like to stop again and review her progress on the way back and I checked with the examiner in the back if that would be OK and they stated they would be happy to go straight back. The time was 14:33. I asked Rachael to drive back and her strategy was to talk through what she was doing a little earlier. I also checked again to see what help she needed and she stated to continue what I had been doing but to allow her to have ago for herself. She started commentating and I reinforced what she was doing by praising her when she spotted hazards early. Once we were out of town I encouraged her to get up to 60mph as it was safe to do so but I also noticed she then stopped commentating which is not unusual for someone who has not practiced any commentary driving for some time or not at all. What happened was when she came into the series of bends on the way back she was getting her position speed and gear spot on into the bend and I concluded the commentary was not helping her as much as just focusing on what she was doing. We approached a change of speed limit and I watched her intently and she entered the 40pmh area at about 39mph and she was beaming so I asked her while she was smiling and she said she nailed the change. We then discussed how distractions might affect her driving focus as there was not much to deal with on this section of the road and how she would manage her friends in the car, she mainly drives on her own as when they go out they get cabs. There wasn’t time to discuss the effects of alcohol the next day and I was conscious that I can distract her from the driving task. I was having a few doubts as the elephant in the room crept back into my mind and I was feeling uncomfortable as we got closer to the test centre. At the last roundabout when we exited traffic was joining from a slip road, Rachael decided to change from lane 1 to 2 to allow them to join safely this was fine but I had to direct her back to lane 1 as our route bared back to the left. She dealt with this fine but it made me aware she probably didn’t know where she was going. On approach to the next junction where there is 3 lanes I asked her to use lane 3 as we would turn right shortly afterwards. When we turned right she didn’t signal and I said it would have been helpful to following traffic but it is a right hand only lane that you drift across into. She drove back and I asked her to drive into a bay which she duly did and then I told her that these were not test centre bays so we ended up reversing into a bay any way.
I started the debrief and used the same questions as I had done on the previous feedback session. She stated how she felt more confident getting her speed correct on approach to not only a change of speed limit but a hazard as well. I asked her about what other options she had when the vehicles entered from the slip road after the last roundabout and she thought that she changing lanes was correct. I explained that it was fine but as she wanted to stay in the left lane to go back to the test centre another option would have been to slow down and let them in. I stated that she had shown good improvement and highlighted the actual improvement, then I asked her if she would reflect on her lesson in the same way she had done when I taught her and then email me her thoughts. For me there are some areas of development for another lesson which are overtaking with the route planning in mind. I thanked her for her help and confirmed with the examiner I had finished, they asked me to come up to their office in a couple of minutes.
It is not nice having to wait for the result, I asked Rachael how she felt the lesson went and she said it had been good, she asked me how I thought I had done and I was confident that I had passed and was hopeful of getting possibly 51.
I went upstairs and no sooner had I arrived I was invited into the inner sanctuary and was immediately told congratulations you have achieved an A. I asked what score did I get and was told 48.
I am disappointed that I dropped 2 marks in risk management one for not mentioning dual controls apparently, I must, even though it was a FLH. The examiner said that it is a box that needs to be ticked. I did mention that is not my interpretation of ADI 1. They then agreed with me that they don’t think it needs to be mentioned but it is a box that must be ticked and I did not give them what they wanted to hear. (Lesson learnt). That was one mark dropped.
The other 2 marks I lost on these points ‘was sufficient feedback given to help the pupil understand and potential safety critical incidents’ and ‘was the pupil given appropriately and timely feedback during the session’. The explanation I was given was I needed to give more advice. I challenged this and they explained that I could have given instruction on how to approach the bends, I said but that surely would have not fitted her learning style and they said that I often allowed her to make an error, I said I was fully aware of that and that benefitted her learning style as I was then able to help her work it out for herself but they finally stated it was their opinion that counted. I cant argue with that. That was the extent of my feedback from the examiner and no feedback was given on the marking sheet and no advice was given to seek further development.
I have taken my time to evaluate my SC as I wanted to be able to write up my thoughts so it could possibly benefit others. My problem is that Rachael clearly achieved her goal by actively working out her approach for herself but on reflection that does not allow the examiner to tick the box. My style of feedback encourages the pupil to find workable solutions for themselves but does not necessarily clearly demonstrate that I can find solutions for them. If I was to do it again I believe I would achieve 51 but who knows what would happen next time. I did deal well with a potential safety critical situation on the first section when Rachael wanted to move back into the left lane to go straight ahead at the roundabout. The examiner did not state any specific safety critical situations that I could have dealt with better and I have interpreted to mean that they would have liked me not to be retrospective and to have given advice such as notice the speed limit change and check your mirrors and ease off the gas so as she would follow those instructions. I smile as I write this as I know she would have been a frigging nightmare if I had told her what to do.
For me the irony is that I got marked down on feedback and yet the feedback given to me by the examiner was weak and really limited. It does say in ADI 1 that you can work it out by the form and so hopefully I have analysed that correctly. Next time I would give some direct advice just to show I know how to give instruction on the move. This SC has given me a learning opportunity which means hopefully I will be able to tick the box and the rest will take care of itself. It has confirmed for me it is our SC and not the learners lesson and a balance needs to be sort to get the best possible outcome.
My excuses are I usually train with full license holders in the fleet market and do not train learners so as dual controls is not usually on my list, I will put it on my check list for my next SC and I am aware that to get maximum marks the examiner expected more instruction.
What will I change in my training, mentioning dual controls is unlikely to happen as it is rare for me to have learner drivers as clients. My feedback methodology is unlikely to change as it already varies from client to client and I already give direct advice if the I think the client will benefit from it.
My conclusion for next time I will do a check list and will tick it off if there are requirements in the SC which are not part of my normal training when I stop to for a feedback session I will take a few moments to analyse the form and make sure I have ticked the box. Would I have changed the way I trained Rachael, the simple answer is no but picking the right candidate is essential for all of us to help achieve the best possible score. My daughter would have been fine if I messed up her learning style for a few moments.
The examiner marked on the form full license holder experienced and they put down the lesson theme as dual carriageway/faster moving roads, it might have described the roads we were on but I do not think it adequately described the theme of the lesson but it ticked a box.
I am pleased about one of aspect it is now clear to me that using a SC as entry to the ADI register will not be the doddle that some in our industry think it might be.
For myself doing just a normal lesson will allow me to pass but to achieve 51/51 I must clearly tick all the boxes and I need to make it bleeding bloody obvious. My advice to other ADIs will be have a check list/lesson plan just to refer to.
I have asked Rachael to independently review her learning and experience of the training session, it is slightly different to what she normally does but she knew her Dad was disappointed with the score. I have and always will have high standards and will continue to strive to be the best that I can be. My daughters feedback is below.
I was my dad’s pupil today for his standards check. So this is my reflection on the hour of driving I did with him. We started off with an introduction and he asked me what I would like to work on within the lesson. I explained how working on speed would be highly beneficial; with regards to adjusting speeds to make it appropriate for the environment let alone the speed limits. Dad asked me what he can do to help me on the drive and I explained how I like to do my own thing so wanted him to say things only when appropriate if I was missing something. I didn’t want a step by step guide of what to do because that’s not how I learn. I like to be coached when needed and if I am doing just fine by myself then being left alone will benefit me. If the teacher keeps piling information on to what I’m doing, then I lose focus and do even worse. Throughout the lesson he highlighted areas to help me and made me think for myself rather than telling me what to do and I believe that we both thought my driving improved on the journey back to the test centre.
There was an incident on a dual carriageway coming up to a roundabout, I decided to overtake a car so checked my mirrors, indicated and moved into the right hand lane. I then realised that as I’m speeding up I need to go straight over the roundabout so I technically should be in the left hand lane. I begin to slow down but dad realises what I’m doing and steps in to help me explaining that I won’t make it. There was a queue of cars and at the speed I was going meant it would be a very tight squeeze, he explains that I can stay in the right hand lane and go straight over, he coaches me with staying in the correct lane, using my mirrors and indicators and he calmed my nerves which is what I want from an instructor. This situation as well as a midway feedback session really helped me because I never really reflect on my driving which by doing it just once today has already improved it vast amounts.
Overall some may say I’m biased because he is my dad but I think he couldn’t have done a better job at instructing me in that lesson. He played to my specific learning styles and got me to think in the lesson rather than telling me what I should have learned. I know that I am his hardest pupil to teach but this makes him as a teacher even better because if he can teach me well then he would be able to teach anyone. This is because I am his daughter and I am always right.