It's enough to make any driving instructor nervous. If you trigger three of the four DVSA stats then you will be called in for a standards check. Some instructors don't mind doing a standards check but I must admit I'm not a fan. Here are the four triggers -
Average number of driving faults per test 6 or greater
Average number of serious faults per test 0.55 or greater
Percentage of driving tests where the examiner had
to take physical action 10% or higher
Driving test pass rate 55% or lower
If 3 of the triggers are met within a 12 month period then an ADI will be requested to attend a standards check. This only applies to an ADI who has presented for 5 or more tests.
I always train my pupils to a standard beyond what is required for the test. This way we can take into account the detrimental effect of nerves on the day. I make sure that the pupils can drive without my intervention over all types of roads and traffic situations. The easy routes come first to make sure all the basics are in place. Next come the intermediate routes to develop the basic skills and get used to interacting with more moving traffic. Then come the manoeuvres to develop and fine tune the car control skills and finally the busy city centre routes. Sat nav and sign following develop hazard awareness skills to ensure the pupil is good to drive unattended after the test.
Even after all this people still fail for one reason or another. Is the pass rate a good and fair indicator of an instructor's teaching ability? I don't really think so. The stress of the first attempt is usually the reason for failure. Not thinking straight or mishandling of the vehicle are common on the first attempt but an instructor can only do so much to soothe the nerves of a pupil, once the test begins they have to do it for themselves.
An instructor's pass rate can depend on which test centre they are local to. The trigger pass rate is 55%. The test centre with the lowest pass rate is Speke in Liverpool with a miserable 29%. The highest is Kendal with a pass rate of 68.3%. If an instructor worked out of the Liverpool test centre they would be hitting the pass rate trigger every year whereas an instructor in Kendal would have a much better chance of staying above the trigger. This would not be a true reflection of the driving instructor's abilities. It's simply the luck of the draw on which test centre you are using.
Six driving faults or less per test is a strange trigger. Given a test candidate can commit 15 driver faults before failing without a serious fault being committed the figure of six seems arbitrary. I always have regarded six or less faults as indicative of a good clean drive and personally I think that 15 faults allowed is too many. I would go with 10 as it brings the committed faults to less than one every three minutes. Six seems a bit too low given people are prone to nerves on a driving test.
It is a serious matter when an examiner takes physical action on a test as they will only do so if there is a definite danger that a safety critical incident will occur. This really shouldn't happen at all to pupils who are genuinely at test standard so I suppose this trigger is fair. I don't want to get to a place where I worry and become annoyed at pupils if they fail their test as you never can tell. I just had a great pupil who took 4 tests to pass. He just couldn't remain calm and come up with the goods on the day. If all pupils tested like him then I'd be having a standards check every year but there's nothing I could really do about his poor performance on tests. Ah well, I'll just keep doing my best and teaching safe driving for life.
Brought to you by Russ Chaplin, one of the driving schools Nottingham area.