Add strings to your bow. An illustration of a training car driving on a country road

Add strings to your bow

Kathy Manson explores potential avenues of professional development for ADIs, including courses from the DIA that can help you advance.

Professional development is an important part of being a driving instructor. The skills and knowledge you’ll need to teach your pupils change over time, as do the driving tests and the way driving is taught.

To give your pupils the best chance of becoming safe, responsible drivers and passing their tests, you’ll need to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. It’s also important to show your pupils that you’re still improving your skills: no one ever really finishes learning to drive.

You’ve read Carly’s article on why professional development is important. So what is on offer for ADIs who wish to develop their career? Here are some of the most common next steps for ADIs.

Client-centred learning

Client-centred learning is an approach that’s being used increasingly in the driving tuition industry. It’s a way of teaching that puts the focus on the learner, as these core principles show.

  • Actively listen to what your pupils are trying to tell you about what’s getting in the way of their learning so you’ll be well-equipped to help them achieve their learning goals.
  • Don’t hide behind a façade, patronise your pupils or pretend to be something you’re not. Your pupils will be much more likely to be willing to listen to you, and share their problems, if you’re ‘real’.
  • Show them you trust that they’re trying to be constructive and find solutions. Your pupils will be much more likely to take your advice and guidance if you accept and respect who they are.
  • People learn in different ways and at different speeds. If someone who likes time to reflect on their learning is forced to move on to the next thing too quickly it could slow down their progress. Or if someone who likes to learn by trying things out is made to watch too many demonstrations without having a go they will get frustrated.

Client-centred learning takes into account how the learner prefers to learn. When people learn in this way they are more likely to retain information and skills. People are also more likely to keep learning if they are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning at an early stage – this is the second aim of client-centred learning.

How to teach in a client-centred way

Listen to your learner to find out how they like to learn, the things that are getting in the way of their progress and how you can help.


You might want to use some coaching techniques with your learners. These are tools that help you to teach in a client-centred way. For instance, you might use scaling to help a learner assess their progress, or mind-mapping to help a learner to explore a subject. If you’re a driving instructor you may already be using coaching techniques with your learners without even knowing it.

You may already be following these principles at least some of the time. The more you use this approach, the more effective your instruction is likely to be. There are lots of different techniques for managing learning in a client-centred way: this is a great area to explore in your professional development.

DIA offers a course on the applied coach approach. This illustrates how coaching principles can be used to help learners identify obstacles to their learning and develop strategies to overcome them.

Visit for more information.

Standards check

The standards check is compulsory professional development for ADIs. The ADI standards check replaced the ADI check test in April 2014.

The ADI standards check assesses your ability to teach pupils. You have to take at least one ADI standards check during each four-year period that you’re registered as an ADI. You have to take a standards check even if you don’t have a car or aren’t working as an ADI. You can only take standards checks in English or Welsh.

When to take your standards check

You’ll get a letter from DVSA asking you to go for your standards check. It will say when and where to go. There is no additional fee for a standards check.

You’ll be marked on 17 areas of competence that are grouped into three categories:

  • Lesson planning
  • Risk management
  • Teaching and learning skills

The 17 areas of competence are listed in the ADI standards check report form, which the examiner will fill in during your check.

You’ll get a score from 0 to 3 for each of the 17 competencies, which are added up to work out your grade.

After you give the lesson, the examiner will discuss your performance and give you your grade. This will take about 15 minutes.

We have covered standards checks in our webinars. Sign in to the members’ area at to access our previous webinars. These cover a number of subjects to help you be best prepared to pass the check.

Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development is a good way to keep your skills up to date. You choose how and when to do the training – it could be a formal course or research on the internet, for example. Your CPD should link with the driver trainer competence framework.

As an approved driving instructor you can take CPD in different ways. You can:

  • Update your teaching or driving skills
  • Go to local or national meetings or seminars
  • Research new vehicles for your business
  • Spend time developing your business skills
  • Go on formal courses
  • Spend time on the internet carrying out research
  • Network with other driver trainers

Special test for instructors

As part of your CPD you can take a DVSA special test, which will test your skills to the highest standards and demonstrate your commitment to CPD. This test is only available to fully qualified instructors and includes a test of your general driving skills and manoeuvres.

The test lasts up to an hour and a half and includes:

  • An eyesight check
  • General driving or riding
  • Manoeuvres

You’ll get a grade from A to D for each skill you’re tested on. You’ll also get one of the following an overall grade of gold, silver, bronze or fail.

You’ll also be given feedback on any faults you’ve made.

Registering as a pass plus instructor

Becoming a Pass Plus instructor will help you generate more business by allowing you to offer an extra service to pupils after they’ve passed their driving test. Pass Plus helps your pupils become safer drivers by continuing their learning and development beyond their driving test, teaching extra skills such as motorway driving.

A Pass Plus course enables new drivers to gain confidence and experience after passing their test, including learning how to reduce the risk of accidents. Some insurers give a discount on insurance premiums for those who have completed a Pass Plus course.

There’s even a number of local authorities who will help with the costs of Pass Plus training – they may fund 50% of your student’s course – useful to know when marketing your new skills as a Pass Plus instructor! Visit for more information.

Once you’ve become a Pass Plus instructor, you’ll be able to start training students. This takes at least six hours and has six modules, covering driving:

  • In town
  • In all weathers
  • On rural roads
  • At night
  • On dual carriageways
  • On motorways

All modules should be practical sessions, although local conditions may mean some are theory based. Your student will normally spend at least five and a half hours driving.

There’s no test involved, but you’ll assess your student throughout the course and they’ll have to reach the required standard in all modules to pass.

Fleet driver trainer

As an ADI, you can register as a fleet driver trainer and you specialise in training fully qualified drivers of fleets of cars and vans. This will enable DVSA to provide your details to people looking for fleet driver training, and you can advertise yourself as a DVSA-registered fleet driver trainer.

DIA runs courses which equip you with all you need to apply for your DVSA fleet licence.

As a registered fleet trainer you have the opportunity to:

  • Generate additional income streams
  • Add more variety to your career as a driver trainer
  • Expand your client base beyond learner drivers to work with a range of experienced drivers
  • Improve the driving habits and safety of occupational drivers
  • Embark on training with some of theUK’s most exciting and prominent brands and companies

For more information visit

Diploma in driver education

The Diploma in Driver Education is an industry-based vocational qualification that consists of five modules on the various aspects of a driver trainer’s role.

These range from legal obligations and regulations, business knowledge, a good understanding on mechanical and vehicle technology aspects, driving theory and teaching knowledge.

The Diploma in Driver Education is the result of an overhauled Diploma in Driving Instruction. The DipDI was a long-standing, industry-recognised qualification that was a popular choice with driver trainers and was rebranded the DipDE to better reflect the nature of the qualification.

Four modules are now delivered as research-based e-learning awards with unlimited tutorial support. To complete the teaching module, candidates will need to complete a teaching qualification such as the Award in Education and Training, which has replaced PTLLS.

Alternatively, candidates must provide a valid PTLLS certificate (five years old or less), or other teaching qualification under recognised prior learning. You also have the option of providing a valid coaching qualification as an alternative to teaching. If this is something that you wish to do, you must check with us to see if your qualification will be accepted.

Successful candidates have the option of having their diploma officially presented each year at the DIA National Conference, or other relevant DIA event.


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