Driving test pass rates only tell a fraction of the story.I was reading an interview with a driving instructor in the DIA Driving magazine the other day. I found the tone of the interview somewhat elitist and disagreed on many points. I do feel strongly about one particular point though, the publication of an individual instructor's pass rates.
Like many driving instructors I get the odd pupil now and then who just does not respond well to being on test. They can drive to a suitable standard technically but nerves get the better of them on the day. These pupils who take many attempts to pass are the ones who require us to do the job as instructors. They need a lot of support and encouragement and the knowledge that their instructor will stick with them until they succeed.
It is these very pupils who I enjoy a good working relationship with. They are the ones who give me good online reviews and recommend me to other people who want to learn to drive. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing them succeed after so much work and it's good to have my teaching skills tested. We can all teach those who have natural ability and confidence.
Ironically it is these pupils who need the most support who are bad for my pass rate. If I have to protect myself against a low published pass rate I will have no choice but to ask these pupils to leave and find another instructor. I won't be able to risk more fails going on to my record and so will not be able to do my job properly. I read an excellent letter from an instructor once who taught in an automatic car and specialised in teaching elderly people and those with learning difficulties. His pupils took several attempts to pass and so his pass rate would be very low indeed. Does this make him a bad instructor? I would say not but the public may view him as such after seeing such a low pass rate published online.
I would say pass rates are only a useful indicator I the extremes. If an instructor has an extremely high pass rate compared to others in the area it may indicate they are particularly good. An extremely low pass rate may show an instructor who is not up to scratch. The middle ground doesn't say much at all. If the public was to choose an instructor because his pass rate was a few percent higher than the next that would not really be an informed choice.
Test centres have different pass rates. Mostly due to the difficulty of the traffic situation in that particular area I would say. I don't believe it's because instructors are better in quieter towns than they are in major cities. Pass rates are therefore a poor indicator of a driving instructor's ability. The public would be much better off using word of mouth or online recommendations when choosing who will teach them to drive.
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