How to Find Good Driving Schools
Learning to drive is highly expensive and time consuming. Finding good driving schools or instructors is essential.
The difference between a good driving school and a bad school however, can be several driving lessons and greatly increased expenses.
This section will provide useful tips and advice on how to find a good driving school or instructor, along with the type of questions you need to ask the school before committing to a course or making payment upfront.
How should I learn to drive?
To get yourself started, you will need to have an idea of how you want to learn to drive. This can be either
- Standard driving lessons – 1 or 2 lessons per week
- Semi-intensive driving course – 2 or more driving lessons per week
- Full intensive course – often the entire course to be taken within a single week
Some driving schools or instructors don’t offer intensive courses, whilst others only offer intensive courses. Knowing how you want to learn to drive will narrow your search down a little. For tips on gaining an understanding on intensive courses, Are intensive driving courses any good offers the advantages and disadvantages. How long it takes to learn to drive gives you an idea of how long each course often takes.
How to find a good driving school
There are a great many driving schools and instructors out there all with various services, abilities and pass rates. It’s not just about how good the instructor is at teaching, certain instructors may consistently turn up late, or not at all. Some may cut lessons short, some have even been known to do their shopping in your lesson time. So before you sign up to take that driving course do a little research.
Initially, ask around for recommendations. Any friends or family that had or are currently taking lessons that can recommend a school or instructor is a good start. Most good driving schools rely heavily on recommendations. Failing that, check online for user reviews of driving schools in your area. Of course neither of these guarantee an excellent service, but certainly put you on the right path. Now that you have decided the ideal driving course and have checked out some reviews, you may have a handful of schools or instructors you want to find out more about. It’s time to ask them some questions.
Top 10 Questions to ask a driving school
There are many factors that determine how quickly and easily you will learn to drive. Some of these can include if the driving instructor is patient, friendly and if they are punctual and reliable. There’s little point in asking these questions as they are highly unlikely to tell you they hardly ever bother turning up. These are the type of things to keep an eye on whilst taking lessons.
To narrow your search on finding a good driving school down further, here are the top 10 questions that you should ask a driving school.
1. Are you a fully qualified instructor and how long have you been teaching?
Essentially, there are 2 types of driving instructors, trainee and fully qualified driving instructors. A trainee instructor will hold a pink licence that should be displayed in the front windscreen. A trainee instructor isn’t necessarily bad but will have not passed all 3 exams and will have limited experience. A trainee instructor may offer cheaper driving lessons. A fully qualified driving instructor will have passed all 3 exams and should display a green licence in the front windscreen. It’s recommended to use a driving instructor that has at least a good 2 or 3 years experience behind them as it does take an instructor a while to become established with their teaching methods and to become confident which methods work best for certain individuals.
You can also check with the DVSA to search for an approved driving instructor. This will ensure that a driving instructor is qualified and has undertaken all necessary DBS checks (previously known as CRB checks). The search will also highlight whether an instructor is committed to the voluntary Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme and if the instructor has agreed to abide by the ADI Code of Practice. You’ll also be able to see the current grade of a driving instructor.
2. Are you experienced with the driving test routes in this area?
It’s not only important to find a driving instructor with a few years experience, but experience in your area. Driving test routes are planned by the local test examiners and intentionally have some of the most difficult roads and traffic systems within the set radius of the test centre. A good driving instructor who knows these difficult areas will provide you with plenty of practice, leaving no nasty surprises when it comes to taking the driving test.
3. Will I have the same driving instructor for each driving lesson?
This is important as an instructor who has been teaching you will understand your abilities and exactly where you are in terms of progress. Different instructors will have to assess your level and will need to get accustomed to the best way of teaching you. It will also take you some time to gain a good understanding of a different instructors teaching methods.
4. Will I have the same car for each lesson and the driving test?
Many driving instructors use reference markers, especially when it comes to manoeuvres such as the turn in the road, reverse round a corner etc. Many of the reference markers can be car specific, so learning in different cars will require adapting the reference markers. All of which takes extra time.
5. What is your pass rate?
Driving instructors pass rates vary, and pass rates can be manipulated.Try and aim for a driving school or instructor with a test pass rate of 60% or more. See driving instructor pass rates. Each test centre also has its own driving test pass rates.
The above questions are the top 5 most important questions that will help you find a good driving school or instructor to put you into the best possible position of passing the driving test. Below are some less important questions that may be specific to your needs.
6. How much are your driving lessons?
Opting simply for the cheapest driving lessons you can find is generally false economy. A driving school or instructor offering lessons well below the local average is perhaps struggling for work or new to the area. If the instructor is new to the area, it may be possible they are not so familiar with the test routes. A good driving school often has no need to offer excessively cheap lesson prices due to recommendations. Further information can be found in the Are cheap driving lessons or schools good? section.
7. Do you offer driving lesson discounts?
Many driving schools offer either student discounts, NHS discounts and block booking discounts. For block booking discounts to become applicable, a pre-paid amount of lessons is often required.
8. How long are your driving lessons?
Some driving schools only offer 2 hour lessons. This for some learner drivers can be a little too long. Many other schools offer 1, 1.5. 2 or longer lessons that cater for all. Also ensure that the lesson lasts for the entire time duration stated.
9. Is there any car sharing involved?
Good driving schools offer a one-on-one tuition. Occasionally a driving school or instructor may use a certain degree of car sharing where you may pick another learner up during your lesson. this is to save the instructor time between lessons. This can also be off-putting for the learner who happens to be driving.
10. Can you pick me up from a different location?
Most good driving schools offer this service. It can certainly be beneficial for you if you can be picked up form an alternative location such as a friends, work or college.
First driving lesson
Armed with the top 10 questions to ask a driving school, you will have hopefully narrowed your choice down significantly. There still is no guarantee that this instructor or school is a good one or is ideally suited to you.
The next step is to take and assessment lesson with your chosen school. This preliminary lesson will establish a few things. For the instructors part it will gauge your ability, how well and quickly you pick up the learning to drive process and if you are suited to an intensive course if that is your preferred method. For your part, you will be able to establish if you feel comfortable with the instructor and also if you clearly understand their teaching method (bearing in mind you will likely be nervous and a little confused being your first driving lesson). See First driving lessons on what to expect in detail. If all goes well, you can discuss with your instructor a suitable course of lessons, methods of payment and any discounts that may apply to you.
Instructor going for a ride
During the course of driving lessons your driving instructor should bring any error to your attention, no matter how small. Some instructors over time can get a little complacent and simply not bother bringing matters to your attention. This does you no favours as you will likely to do this in your driving test. If you suspect your instructor is doing this, bring it to their attention and tell them you would like each and every error you make brought to your attention no matter how small.
Angry driving instructors
Driving lessons can be stressful enough as it is. The last thing you need on top of that is an angry and impatient driving instructor raising their voice at you. If you are unfortunate enough to find such a instructor, make it clear to them that you wont tolerate this as you are a learner driver and will make mistakes. If they persist with this attitute, seek an alternative instructor.
If there is any aspect of your driving you feel needs more work or that you are lacking confidence, bring it up with your instructor. The driving test often has the ability to emphasize areas of driving inability, so don’t be afraid to tell your instructor.