When teaching someone to drive, you find there are 2 types of pupil. The first wants to be completely ready for their driving test and so as with the theory test will spend hours and hours practising until they are as ready as they can be.
The second type, as with the theory test, knows that to give the needed stimulus to prepare for the test, they first need to be given a definite date to work to and only then does the pupil find themselves sufficiently motivated enough to fully prepare for the the exam.
And that's where there is a problem!
The Driving Instructor
As a business - and you have to remember that first and foremost every driving instructor is a business, you can only recommend a particular course of action to your pupils.
After all if you have a mobile phone contract with Orange and they say "we have a package with unlimited texts and calls and internet for £5 per month and you say "I don't want that! I want the package where i pay for everything and it will cost me £50 per month!"
The phone company do not have the right to say, "we wont supply you then" Because they know, you'll go elsewhere and get exactly what you want. As a business it would be financial suicide to do this. But as driving instructors we seem to be expected to do this when it comes to the driving test.
However as a business and as a person who genuinely wants their pupil to pass at the first attempt, a driving instructor is controlled by the pupil. It is the pupil and their finances that determine the amount of lessons that they take and no matter what we, the dsa or anyone else says, that will always be the over-riding factor.
Of course in these times of recession that money becomes less and less.
Summer holidays and driving lessons
This has become more noticeable during the summer holidays, in the last 2 weeks alone, I've had to take 3 pupils who are not really ready for test, but when the test was booked after the middle of July the understanding was, this, gave us enough time to work upto test standard. This also gave them the needed date and the fact they did not want to get to test standard and then wait 6 weeks for a test. This practice time, unfortunately did not happen.
All three were told in no uncertain terms that they were not ready for test and it would be better to postpone it until in the mock tests they were at the mark expected.
Not Ready for driving test
So the first pupil's mom said it was ok and she wanted her to go for test as the pupil was driving her car all the time and the mom felt comfortable, and the pupil seemed to be doing fine, so the mom felt it was worth going for the test in the hope - "it all goes her way and she passes" - Result = 6 serious 14 minor faults
Pupil 2 He was hoping to go and get lots of practice in moms car and use the lessons as top up sessions. This never happened!! So, in fairness they did try to cancel. The test was on the Tuesday so mom tried to cancel on the thursday and was told it was too late!! They needed 3 working days.
This did not include the day that the test was on, so she should have cancelled by the weds. Result 3 serious 15 minors
Pupil 3 is a complete nervous wreck on mock tests - I've done 3 mock tests with her and each one results in a minimum of 9 yes NINE serious faults. - The boyfriend however has told her to ignore my advice and go for test anyway - saying of course she is ready for test!
This by the way is despite the fact he has never seen her driving, let alone sit in on a lesson or mock test!!
She again booked the driving test saying her boyfriend was putting her on his insurance so armed with her progress book and the comments from me on there, they would be able to do untold hours of practice and then have a couple of lessons in the run up to the test.
Again none of this happened and she got back in the car saying she'd done no driving from then till now!
The driving test is booked for Tuesday and I have already told her i will be sitting in the back, because I fully expect the test to be abandoned. Which really is a shame for her as she's such a good pupil but just not where she needs to be.
But as with the other 2 pupils, if I refuse, I lose the money, and she takes it in her own car potentially putting them both at serious risk - But only I can know that - because we cant tell the examiner.
The Driving Examiner
So to the driving examiner, he of course can only judge what he sees go on at the test. So no one could blame them for making wrong assumptions, but given that the majority of driving instructors know that the more pupils that pass first time, the better your reputation becomes and the more work you get, they are sometimes of the opinion that you have chosen to bring a pupil who is not ready for test or that you do not really understand what is required for them to pass the test.
We are not allowed to knock on the door at the start and explain the background and we can't say anything when they meet the pupil.
But it would be nice if somewhere on the test sheet a small box was enclosed saying :-
Do you think this pupil is at test standard?
Have you told this pupil they are not ready for their driving test?
At least this way the examiner can be warned beforehand and that both they and the DSA know that despite what they may see on the driving test marking sheet, we have tried very hard to not let them take their driving test.