As a driving instructor in Stoke on Trent I wanted to share with you my thoughts about the need for CPD and how easy it easy to go about it.
For people not associated with the driving instructor profession, most have no idea about the training involved in becoming a driving instructor or the necessary continuous professional development (CPD) that is required to stay at the top of the game. I say necessary CPD as its’s not compulsory. In my opinion CPD should stand for Compulsory Professional Development!
At present, once qualified, a driving instructor may never do any more training for the rest of their life! How crazy is that? Can you think of any other job or profession that once you’ve started on day 1, you never have to train again? I do admit that to become a driving instructor in the first place requires a lot of work, studying, practice, and dedication, but I qualified at 24 and may do this job until I retire at maybe 65-70 years of age. That’s 40 years or more, and at the moment there’s nothing in place to say that I have to become a better instructor or improve my skills during this time.
But what about the check test?
Approximately every 2-5 years every driving instructor that wishes to remain on the DSA’s register of approved driving instructors must complete a check test. This is a normal 1 hour lesson which a senior examiner sits in the back, watches the lesson, and gives feedback at the end, along with a grading for the instructor. The grading scale is from 1-6. If you are given a 1,2 or 3 then this is below the accepted standard and a further test will be carried out within a couple of months. If you are given a 4,5 or 6 then you may remain on the register. The higher your grade, the better the standard of the lesson you gave, and the longer the gap will be until the next check test.
The DSA however has finally realised that the way that driving lessons were taught in the 20th Century are maybe now a little dated and improvements now need to be made in the way that driving lessons are delivered. At the time of writing I am led to believe that proposed check test changes are to be implemented in April 2014, leading to a more client centred learning style of teaching. From what I’ve already read and from meetings I’ve attended, big changes are coming and there is only going to be one way to adapt to these changes and that is CPD!
So, what is CPD for Driving Instructors?
CPD is anything that can help you to learn or broaden your mind. It may be reading a blog like this, attending a local driving instructors meeting, reading newsletters or articles, or even attending courses and workshops. In Stoke on Trent we have an excellent local Driving Instructors Association (NSDIA) which holds monthly meetings to discuss a range of topics and has some great guest speakers. This meeting takes up just 2 hours of our time on one evening a month, but if you were to turn up for every meeting in the year, you would easily amass 24 hours of CPD, which is approximately 3 days worth, and it’s free of charge!
You may decide to go out and get a book about instruction, I’m currently reading ‘can drivers really teach themselves’ by Ian Edwards, which is a great book about coaching and CCL techniques. It cost about a tenner, and has given me loads of food for thought. Again, reading (and probably re-reading) this book is easily going to add up the hours on your CPD journey. I’ve read about half of this book and started to implement some of his thoughts into my own teaching, but I know I still have a lot of changes to make.
You may decide to go on a course, some can be free and some can be very expensive, but you’ll be going to listen to professionals help you to become a better driving instructor.
So is Driving Instructor CPD really necessary?
Last week I had my check test and got a grade 5, which I was really happy with. My previous 2 have been grade 4’s. I feel that this was down to my new ‘coaching’ approach and the result of around 10 days of CPD over the past 12 months. Could I have achieved this result without any CPD? No, I don’t think I could, and I know though that I must continue to work and refine my teaching so that next time I can hopefully get a grade 6!
So what I’m trying to say is no matter how great a driving instructor you are (or think you are), there’s always room for improvement, and it’s really easy to build up your knowledge, and it doesn’t have to cost the Earth! By continuing to better yourself, and the instruction that you give in the long run will provide better results for your pupils, and hopefully better recommendation rates, and even better – increased lesson prices – and who doesn’t want that?
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My name’s Dave Shannon and I’m a driving instructor in Stoke on Trent where I run a small school with 3 driving instructors – www.driveahead.co.uk