Current government advice is to stay at home, and NASP has recommended that driver trainers cease driving lessons (except to key workers). This means it is important to have other ways to keep your pupils engaged amid the coronavirus pandemic, if you can.
There is a lot of official government guidance to help you to keep yourself and your pupils as safe as possible. DIA has also published guidance specifically for ADIs.
We would like to share some ideas designed to keep your pupils, and also their wider families and other members of their household, engaged and focused on continuing to learn, now in-car training is not possible.
Many of your pupils will be working towards their theory test. Those that have already passed this will still need to continuously develop their underpinning knowledge and understanding so that they are able to demonstrate the practical skills needed to be a safe and responsible driver. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, some theory tests may expire. This means that your pupils may have to retake their theory test once practical driving tests resume.
Make a weekly call to your pupils to stay in touch
Call them at an agreed time each week to check how they are, and to keep their focus on their driving. If they have been practising with their parents, then keep up to date with what they have been doing and provide input and guidance with this. DVSA provides a record for private practice here.
Some tips for getting started
You know what you have been recently working on with your learners, so continue this learning by discussing the theory that underpins these development points. Draw on your knowledge as well as official sources such as the Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs, Driving the essential skills and the National Standards for Cars and Light Vans (Cat B), including the Learning to Drive Syllabus (free to download from GOV.UK)
If you are unsure about the National Standards, this is an excellent time to read up on them. As a trainer, you need to understand the National Standards for Driver and Rider Training, which are all geared towards you and very much linked to your standards check as well.
Look back at the last lesson and discuss with that particular pupil the theory knowledge that applies and where it links to in the National Standards for Cars and Light Vans (Cat B) and the Learning to Drive Syllabus. This is a great way to further improve your pupil’s knowledge and understanding with the National Standards, the importance of them and how it benefits them as a driver.
Host a virtual learning session
You can sign up for free to services that allow you to hold video calls so you can keep in touch with your pupils and move their learning forward. Theory learning underpins everything we do in the car so it is essential to have solid theory knowledge.
Learners will benefit from tuition and guidance from you to continue their learning. Consider charging your pupils for a theory session or sessions, especially if they are studying for their theory test. This is a great time for some quality tuition from you to help them with their study. If you are looking at charging for these sessions, you will need to consider a more appropriate rate than you would usually charge for in-car training.
Learners who have already passed their theory test and who are working towards their practical test can benefit from continuing to develop their theoretical driving knowledge as this is an essential aspect of being a safe and responsible driver.
A great point to make is that other members of a household can also get involved. If there are siblings that will soon be taking driving lessons, they can start their learning now, alongside your pupil. Siblings are likely to be a potential new pupil for you anyway, but this could be a good early introduction for you both to have a jump start on their learning before they begin in-car training with you.
There are many different ways of hosting online sessions. Some examples are Zoom, which is a video conferencing service, Facebook Live and Instagram Live. WhatsApp can host several people in one video chat. You can also use Skype and FaceTime for video chat.
Create your own videos
Consider using your dashcam footage to make some quick videos to share and discuss with your pupils. You can add these to YouTube for free. If you have a forward facing camera then you could use clips to turn into learning sessions. Make good use of each clip as they can be used for hazard perception training and also valuable discussion points.
You might even want to make some videos to teach specific points for some pupils to demonstrate how to use DSSSM, apply the MSM routine, how to pull up on the left, junctions and roundabouts, manoeuvring and how to drive on a dual carriageway, how to navigate rural roads safely and what to look out for, and even motorway driving, for example. The only real limit is your creativity!
A few considerations
If you are new to holding a video conference/web chat, you might want to consider your internet connection as this needs to be good. Using wifi is ok but to get the best connection, plug your computer straight into the router via an ethernet cable.
Consider where you’ll be when you hold the video session – you need to be free from interruptions and also consider what’s in the background.
Contact your pupils and see if they would like to attend a learning session with you in this way – it’s also a great way of getting the parents involved too!
Whether you plan to hold a one-to-one session, or even a small group session with a few of your learners for those that are happy to participate, agree a lesson time and approximate duration with learners.
Keep parents up-to-date with how you can continue to support their young drivers.
Keep the conversation focused on the learning outcome(s) for each session.
Record sessions if you can. You can give a copy to your learners if they need it, and also keep for your own records. Make sure everyone involved knows it is being recorded and consents to it.
If you share in-car footage of you demonstrating a learning point, do ensure that you are the only person in the car being filmed.