If you saw the Check Test as a necessary evil that you had to undergo in order to remain on the ADI Register; and something that involved you changing the way you usually did things to satisfy the Examiner so that he or she could tick the appropriate boxes on the form; and something that bore no resemblance to your everyday teaching practices; then you probably performed according to your ability to ‘play the game’ on the day. You may also be able to do the same with the Standards Check.
If, however, you recognise that the Check Test was an assessment of your everyday teaching practices and an opportunity for you to showcase a snapshot of your skills and abilities, you will find this series of articles really useful in helping you to determine how or whether to amend your teaching style so that it is client-centred and meets the competencies set out on the new Standards Check Form. This will take practice, reflection and development on your part and, most importantly, time.
Adopting a client-centred approach is not the same as putting a layer of jam on a piece of already buttered toast … It is much more the case of considering a whole new ‘healthy option’. For example, if the toast is white, then would wholemeal be more appropriate? Is there an alternative to butter that would produce a better result, such as a low fat spread? And, is it possible to use reduced sugar jam? A bit fanciful, you may think. However, the new Standards Check is the outcome assessment of a much healthier way of educating people to raise their self-awareness and encourage them to take responsibility for their driving decisions. Moreover, it is not about throwing the piece of buttered toast into the bin and making a salad instead because this would waste all the skills and abilities that have been acquired over time in perfecting making toast and buttering it.
Adopting a client-centred approach, and therefore meeting the requirements of the new Standards Check, is like looking at the piece of buttered toast and considering what needs to be done to it to make it healthier without changing the fact that it is still a piece of toast.
You know how to teach people to drive and give them the skills and techniques they need to pass their practical driving test. What do you need to do in addition to this to ensure that people are more likely to choose to continue to drive safely once they have passed their driving test? This will possibly involve adapting and amending what you do currently whilst still relying on your expertise and experience to provide a safe and enjoyable learning environment for your customer.
Other articles looked at five essential coaching skills of
However, we are driving instructors and, as such, we have a duty of care to our customers that is different from any other coaching or client-centred practice. Namely, our customers are learning to drive a lethal weapon. Therefore, the rest of this first article on client-centred learning and the new Standards Check will focus on the safety critical aspects, against which you will be assessed and the results of failing to address these.
At any point in the lesson, did the trainer behave in a way which put you (the examiner), the pupil or any third party in immediate danger, so that you (the examiner) had to stop the lesson?
Some driving instructors cynically sound off about client-centred learning being akin to new-age, alternative, quasi-Buddhist teachings where so long as we ask the customer how they are feeling we are doing a ‘great’ job …. Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. Take the following scenario:
You have discussed with your client, Sally, her goals for the session and she has said she would like to do the Turn in the Road. According to her learning preference she would like to have a go and then discuss her further development afterwards. Between you a suitable location has been agreed and she has driven there with the agreed amount of support from you. Once at the location, you do as agreed and say nothing as she has a go at carrying out the turn in the road for the first time. On the reverse part her foot slips off the clutch and she accelerates alarmingly quickly across the width of the road, bouncing up the kerb and embedding the bumper into the tree that suddenly appears behind the car. Do you say:
A – Good grief, what do you think you are doing? Look at the damage you have caused to my car. You will have to pay for that you know?
B – How did that feel?
C – I am really sorry, this is entirely my fault. I should have braked you.
Actually, in an ideal world, you would say none of these because you would never have let the situation develop in the first place. However, in reality, these things can happen and C would be the correct response.
The point is that there is a division of responsibility when teaching someone to drive. On the one hand, the customer is learning how they learn best, and to do this, they have to take responsibility for their learning process. On the other hand, you have to provide an environment that is safe for them to learn in the way they learn best. If the environment is suddenly risky then you must do whatever is necessary to prevent the risk from becoming dangerous. The sooner you can identify the potential risk, the more likely you will be to keep the responsibility sitting with the customer because you can ask them what they are going to do, or tell them to brake, and both of these options are preferable to dualling them as a last resort.
It might be helpful to compare these to either a serious or dangerous fault. On the L Test, driver errors are assessed by the Examiner and given a weighting:
A driver error might be noted if, emerging from a junction, the candidate releases the handbrake before the clutch is at the biting point and the car rolls back a little. The candidate manages to rescue the situation by finding the bite and moves away jerkily. Again, there is no other road user around. This is worthy of note and may be classed as a driver error.
A serious fault might be recorded if, when emerging from the junction, the candidate releases the handbrake too early before the clutch is at the biting point, panics as the car rolls back and pulls the handbrake back on or brings the clutch up too quickly and stalls. A car behind would make this a serious fault.
A dangerous fault would be similar to above but with a pedestrian or cyclist behind; or, if the Examiner has to take action verbally or physically.
If you do not step in and give sufficient information to avoid a safety critical incident from occurring you will fail your Standards Check.
In my next article I will start to work through the Standards Check form. There are three broad areas against which you will be assessed