Wow-what a year. This year has been one hell of a year. There are so many reflections to mull over. I for one am flabbergasted, I don’t know about you!
Of course, the podcast has taken a slight back seat this year due to the pandemic. Meeting up with Soto is really difficult due to the distancing and of course bubble saga. We all need to do our bit – but we are hopeful that things can get back to normal in the spring where we will of course resume our weekly podcast show. Until then – we will be doing an over-the-phone end-of-year summary so please stay tuned for this.
Learning to drive this year has been extremely difficult for any learner driver. The ones who were ready for their driving test back in March and then lurched straight into their driving test – would have especially found it hard without training for four months. The DVSA didn’t exactly give any driving instructor much time to plan lessons and training prior to any pupils driving test.
OK – so where do I start? Bad management, or simply, nobody knew what was going to happen and to be able to plan for such an event? Personally, I believe it comes down to a bit of both. Back in the spring, the DVSA cancelled driving tests on an ad-hoc basis. Initially with 4 weeks notice – and then pro-rata. Booking candidates test over the summer on the proviso that driving tests would resume. Oh, how wrong they were.
The accomodating part of the keyworker tests over the summer was very confusing. Critical worker or keyworker – it appeared that anyone still working was actually eligible if they so needed it. However, at a test centre miles and miles away with no driving instructor available or wanting to do any driving lessons. Private practice soared and I am sure the learner car insurance market did too!
The fiasco once the booking system opened for the general public – arguably was one of the biggest faux-pas of the DVSA. Crashing within 5 minutes of being open. To the point whereby they needed to install a queue system just to allow people on to book or change their driving tests. Once in the queue – the average queue place went up 10,000 places every minute – there were only ever a set number of driving tests available. And at one point over 800,000 people trying to book their practical test.
The secret to getting the test date was to wake-up at 6 am prior to the 8 am opening of the driving test. This was of course NOT feasible for many people, but aloha one that needed to happen.
The DVSA liked to inform driving instructors very often the night before a huge announcement. It appeared that nobody at the DVSA was able to make informed decisions and ONLY at the very last minute were things shared with driving instructors. Again, during the second lockdown, the DVSA decided not to include keyworker driving tests – probably because of the fiasco that happened during the first lockdown.
Bad management or just unprecedented times – I’ll let you decide, possibly a bit of both – but one thing is for sure, nobody knew what was or not allowed at any point throughout the process.
One of the hot topics for driving instructors this year was the SSME grant – or lack of it for a large section of the industry. Many ADI’s slipping through the net of being eligible for any help. Those new to teaching, or those whose earnings were more than 50,000 not being eligible. And if you own a company and pay yourself through dividends – again, forget any financial assistance.
Being a driving instructor for many has been extremely challenging this year. Can work, can’t work, can work, can’t work – and then trying to fit quick notice tests that were another thing altogether. You can read my last blog post here!
With hospital admissions at breaking point, and half the country currently under lockdown – everyone knows we are just awaiting the awful news that yes – we will need to do another lockdown in January – but, will 4 weeks really resolve it? Or are we in for another long one? Whatever the result – please please let us get back to some kind of normality for the new year. Until next time…