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ADI Standards Check Help

In my own unique style, this article will offer you a pragmatic description of the ADI standards Check. After reading this you should feel confident about your ability to do well on yours.

There’s a lot of "crap" spread by companies trying to scare you to part with your hard earned money so you attend their courses, which quite frankly don’t deliver much you don’t already know!

Who am I to say this?. I have been an ADI since 2005. In the old grading system I was a Grade 5; in the new system I am an A and I have done a ton of CPD, in particular, many Coaching courses including the Post-Graduate Coaching for Driver Development in 2010 from University of East Anglia. I have also done the DIA Diploma in Driving Instruction and the PTLLS qualification. So I feel more than qualified to say a few things about the new assessment.


It had long been acknowledged that driving instruction needed an overhaul. It wasn’t serving its purpose. Accident rates and road fatalities were considered too high and it was felt that driving instruction could make a difference if the instruction influenced a learner’s attitudes to safe driving. A big IF.

A European project called HERMES was set up in 2007 and completed in 2010 with the objective:-

"... it has been worked out what methods to apply best to reduce traffic accidents. In the EU HERMES project it will be worked out how [best] to put these methods into practice"

The "methods" being referred to are coaching methods and HERMES was a project tasked:-

"to create a short 3-5 day training course"

for driving instructors,

"to develop their coaching skills".

HERMES was predicated on the premise:-

"Safe drivers are responsible drivers [and] this sense of responsibility can be developed in the driver training process"

and it was believed coaching had the techniques to develop this "sense of responsibility".

I don’t agree with that premise. A driver’s attitudes & behaviour is better explained by Icek Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour and let’s face it, "scruffy middle aged driving instructors" are going to have no impact on a young person’s attitude, coaching or no coaching. However, that’s another article I plan to write.

Coaching became the "new black" in the driver training industry. Courses sprang up like weeds; books were hastily written and the driving instructor industry split. ADI’s started "mind-mapping" & "scaling" their hearts out. Like marmite, some hated it, some loved it and passions ran high on both sides. Forums began to creak under the weight of heated debate over coaching. The crux of opposition was to the idea driving instructors could make lasting change to people’s attitudes to driving. Rumours were rife that coaching was going to be mandatory. Rebellion was brewing.

The DVSA jumped on the bandwagon and revamped its learning to drive syllabus. It published a report in 2012 "Evaluation of the New Learning to Drive Syllabus" which states:

"... the DSA have developed a new syllabus which is designed to be delivered in a ’client-centred’ style similar to the ’coaching’ approach used in the EU Hermes project"


The DSA cleverly side stepped the heated debate over coaching and called it ’Client Centred’ and described it only as ’similar’ to "coaching".

They were also keen to point out in their Examiners Guide, section 4.4, page 86, under Teaching & Learning Strategies:

"The important thing to remember when considering teaching and learning styles is that it is not just about coaching. It is about client-centred learning."

Out with the old and in with the new, The Standards Check was born.

Courses quickly sprang up, irritatingly promoting Coaching as synonymous with Client Centred Learning. Furthermore, Coaching has rapidly degenerated into a shallow bag of tricks in mind-mapping, scaling and a next to useless "reflection" technique all designed to "impress" your examiner. Is it having the desired effect on learner’s attitudes? I very much doubt it! Client Centred is becoming "Instructor Centred in disguise" However, that’s another article.

The Standards Check

Don’t Panic!

It is not as scary as you may imagine. If you’re comfortable with your teaching, then there is every reason to believe the examiner will be also. If you’re not comfortable with your teaching, or you feel there are gaps in your knowledge, techniques, or teaching ability, then take ownership for self improvement and fix it.

Clearly, there are some bad driving instructors. In every profession there are those below standard, most are average and some are excellent. The SC serves the general public. The Green Badge is visible evidence to the public the person they are paying has been vetted as a professional and meets or exceeds an approved standard. The standard is pretty much the same as its always been, it’s just the assessment has shifted focus. You are not expected to be a coaching expert despite what some people might tell you. You are however, expected to give value for money and ’value for money’ is assessed by whether your client learns something or not.

The Process

You can read the minutiae of the Standards Check process here.

In short, you turn up with a client, carry out a lesson as you would normally. The Examiner sits in on the lesson and assesses you in three areas:-

  1. Lesson Planning
  2. Risk Management and
  3. Teaching & Learning Strategies
and you’ll find the Standards Check assessment form here.

Lesson Planning

Lesson Planning you know, or you think you do. You were taught it on the adi training for your Part 3, or you think you were. Very often lesson planning means the instructor decides what the client should learn next; the instructor decides the content and the client just "goes along for the ride".

This is "Instructor Centred" and it is what we were accustomed to at school, University and traditional driving instruction. The teacher decides the lesson, the student sits passively and is expected to learn. Because this is what many people were brought up with it is also what many clients are expecting.

This is where I feel the assessment form falls down a little. It too is worded in an Instructor Centred way:

"Did the trainer identify the pupil’s learning goals and needs’.

In a truly Client Centred Learning environment, the client is encouraged to identify their needs and goals.

Unfortunately, this is too progressive for many ADI’s and clients alike and causes a lot of controversy. Many clients are accustomed to being told what to learn by the "teacher".

However, the client can be encouraged to participate in the lesson planning and decide their own goals. It doesn’t have to be a one‑way street. My advice, be flexible. If you can encourage your client to own the learning - do so. Let the client take as much responsibility as they feel comfortable with. Some love it, some don’t. The skill is to know your client. Develop a rapport with your client that makes them comfortable with owning their learning experience.

The rest of this section is pretty much bog standard. You find suitable areas to practice the goals; let them practice, offer feedback; adjust the plan as required to help them achieve their goals. Nothing new there then, it’s as you’ve been trained to do. The key to success, stated in the Guidance for Examiners, ADI1, section 3.38 page 54, is:

"The pace of a session should be set by the pupil."

Risk Management

Not a lot here you should’t already know. Score 7 or less and you fail immediately!

Keep one eye on the world around you and the other on your client. Keep it safe. Should be what you do every day with every client.

Teaching & Learning Strategies

This is where ’Client Centred’ really comes into it. This is where the test allows you to demonstrate you know what CCL means.

I feel the first item being assessed, "... teaching style suited to the pupil’s learning style" simply highlights the DVSA’s ignorance. There have been numerous studies that have concluded there is a lack of evidence supporting the idea of learning style preference. The most famous by Frank Coffield in 2004.

Students use a variety of "styles" depending on what they are learning. What’s important is whether the teaching strategy you are using is actually working. What the examiner is looking for is whether your client is actually learning anything, if they’re not then clearly your teaching strategy is not working. Try another!

The DVSA’s ADI1 Guidance for Driving Examiners says this, section 3.38, page 54, about Learning Strategies:-

"The skill is recognising when the pupil stops learning".

The items, "encouraged... to take responsibility for their learning?" and " reflect on their own performance?" is where your coaching techniques can be used to good effect. However the DVSA’s example of a typical reflective log section 4.30, page 77 of the Examiner’s Guide is unimaginative and of little use in my opinion. I intend to write another article on reflection and offer you a better alternative.

The only other item of interest is, "was the pupil given appropriate and timely feedback...". What you currently do for feedback will suffice. However, that said, current ADI training doesn’t cover feedback well in my opinion but hey, the examiner knows no better either.

I need to write another article on the topic of feedback. There has been much research on what is called "formative assessment" and quite frankly, many ADI training courses aren’t really on the ball in this area except perhaps Ian Edwards’ courses from edriving solutions. His concept of a "feedback event" is the closest I have seen to treating feedback correctly. His courses are really good and I try to attend them whenever I can.


If this has been useful or interesting, send me a message, either WhatsApp or you can use the Contact Form.

If you want more, or want help preparing for your SC, send me a message. I’ll do pretty much anything for a cup of Costa’s Flat White!

Whilst I welcome the change in ADI assessment, I am disappointed that it doesn’t go far enough and moreover, there is no apparent strategy for measuring if it’s working or not. Where’s the research? Where’s the evidence that will determine whether changing the system can or will make a difference?

HERMES has been around several years now; coaching has been practised for several years now; has it made the roads safer? Have people’s attitudes to safe driving improved? What’s the plan to find out? Where’s the research?

One thing for sure, the national pass rate is pretty steady, still hovering around 46%, give or take a couple of percentage points! So coaching hasn’t made any huge impact there then.

What I would like to see is an Industry professional Journal published annually like other professions, with research papers and best practices.

Come on DIA, MSA and ADINJC - which of you want to take up the gauntlet and pioneer this?