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  • Jacqui Turland

Making the conduct expected of driving instructors clearer

Edit By Ellis

"I really dont understand why so many people are reacting negatively to this. Its what parents and pupils ecpect from us and should be what we expect from ourselves."

Today (17 February 2018), we’ve published a new version of the approved driving instructor (ADI) register guide. It explains what’s involved in being an ADI - it’s vital reading, whether you’re just starting out, or have been qualified for years.

We've improved the guide to include everything you need to know about qualifying and being an ADI. It should make faster to find what you need.

I’ve taken this opportunity to review the ‘fit and proper’ criteria for ADIs, which is now part of the guide. In this post, I want to explain some more about inappropriate behaviour and how we’ll deal with it.

Protecting and improving the reputation of the ADI profession

I have 3 goals as the ADI Registrar:

  • to make sure every ADI maintains and improves their instructional ability

  • to make sure every ADI is a fit and proper person

  • to protect and improve the reputation of the ADI register - and every ADI who meets the standards

ADIs are in a position of considerable trust. I know the vast majority of you have the highest of respect for that trust, and conduct yourselves with the utmost professionalism.

However, there are some people who don’t have that same level of respect. They cause the public to question the professionalism of instructors and threaten to damage the reputation of the profession. They perpetuate outdated stereotypes and caricatures.

You’ve worked hard to qualify as an ADI and be on the register. I won’t let people threaten to undermine that achievement by bringing the ADI register into disrepute.

Dealing with inappropriate conduct

As ADI Registrar, I can remove an instructor’s name from the register if they stop being a ‘fit and proper’ person. The ADI register guide sets out what’s meant by this, and the process for removing someone from the register.

I want to give some examples of how certain types of inappropriate conduct might be investigated and dealt with.

Most reports we get are about contractual issues, such as:
  • lessons that are shorter than agreed

  • the instructor arriving late

  • the instructor cancelling lessons

  • failing to provide pre-paid lessons

With the learner driver's permission, we will pass the report to the instructor and invite their response.

We’ll keep a record on the instructor’s file, and if a pattern emerges, we’ll start the process to remove them from the register - we won’t just rely on a criminal conviction or caution.

2. Mobile phone use

The THINK! campaign recommends making the glove compartment the phone compartment.

We do get reports about instructors using mobile phones to text and call other customers during lessons.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while carrying out instruction is illegal. As the accompanying driver, the instructor should be in control of the vehicle at all times.

Anyone convicted will receive 6 penalty points, and at that point, I can consider removing their name from the register.

As it’s illegal, doing this is also setting a terrible example to the drivers of tomorrow.

It is also poor customer service to a learner who is paying for an instructor’s time.

The same rules apply to using a tablet to record a pupils’ progress or to show a diagram or video. However, it’s legal to use a tablet when the car is safely parked and the engine is off.

3. Disrespectful behaviour

The national standard sets out the skills you need.

You’ll be disappointed to know we do have to deal with reports of instructors being impatient or shouting and swearing at pupils.

This type of behaviour is unnecessary, disrespectful and extremely unprofessional.

Experiencing something like this can destroy someone’s confidence, put them off wanting to drive, and make it hard for them to trust any future instructor. It’s something we take very seriously.

The national standard for driver and rider training describes the skills you need to make sure pupils engage with the process of learning to drive.

4. Serious inappropriate behaviour

The ADI code of practice sets out how ADIs should behave in their personal conduct and business dealings.

I’m sure you’ll also be shocked to know we do receive reports of serious inappropriate behaviour.

These range from using sexualised language, unnecessary physical contact, through to inappropriate messages or images being sent to pupils.

This is totally unacceptable. It can make the victim feel shameful, humiliated and helpless. It can lead to anxiety and depression. And it won’t be tolerated.

We’ll fully investigate any allegation of inappropriate behaviour and support anyone wishing to take a case to police.

If someone is convicted for this behaviour, I’ll start the process to remove them from the register. In cases where there’s no conviction, I’ll still consider removal if I believe they pose a significant risk to pupils.

The ADI code of practice sets out the behaviour DVSA, the ADI associations and the public expect.

If you agree to follow the code, you can confirm this by updating your ADI registration. You can then use the ‘ADI code of practice - I’ve signed up’ logoon your website or literature.

5. Intimate relationships with pupils

Most of you know it’s completely unacceptable and unprofessional to start a sexual relationship with someone you’re teaching.

While it’s not unlawful to have a consensual sexual relationship with someone over the age of consent, I see this as exploiting the position of trust the instructor is in - particularly if the pupil is vulnerable.

Anyone under 18 is legally a child. This means that local safeguarding teams, including police and local authority designated officers, will be involved in such a report (either from the pupil themselves, or one of their relatives).

I won’t hesitate to remove any instructor I consider to be a risk to learners.

Protecting learners, protecting you

As I said earlier, I know the vast majority of you conduct yourselves with the utmost professionalism.

I hope you agree that dealing with inappropriate conduct is vital to protect learner drivers, and to protect you and the reputation of the ADI profession.

We're raising awareness with learner drivers and parents about what they should expect from their driving instructor.

There’s information on GOV.UK for learner drivers about how to complain about a driving instructor. If you get any pupils who tell you they’ve experienced inappropriate conduct from another instructor, please do explain to them that they can tell us about it.

We take every report extremely seriously.

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