M is for My instructor has let me down


Has your driving instructor really let you down at the last minute? Honestly? Or have they told you that you are not yet at the required standard? There’s the difference.

On your side and our code of conduct

Firstly, if your instructor truly has dropped a bombshell on you at such short notice that you will lose your test fee, then I’m on your side. I’m still not going to let you use my car, and I highly doubt that any other instructor will let you use theirs either. But I will advise you to report the instructor to the DVSA. Our code of conduct states that we should give you enough notice that you can cancel or move your test without losing your test fee. And I think that is only fair on you.

However, our code of conduct also states that we should not take a learner to a test if we don’t believe they have met the required standard. We have a professional duty to be gatekeepers to the driving test, and we have a duty of safety to the examiners and the other road users. The DVSA will always support a driving instructor who does this, so long as it is done with enough time to move your test without losing your money. So, if this is what has happened, then quite simply there’s no point complaining to the DVSA: they won’t support you.

Difficult conversations

Advising a learner that they are not ready for a driving test is a very difficult conversation to have, and it is why my personal policy is that I do not take on students who have already booked a test; especially if that test is very soon. It’s just too awkward to assess your driving and then potentially have to burst your bubble. I simply avoid putting myself in that situation. You might be an amazing driver; in which case I could make a very easy few quid. But I’m not going to risk it. And I’m also not going to go to the trouble of rearranging my other lessons to fit you in. That’s an organisational nightmare that could take me well over an hour. I’m also quite sure that if you are an amazing driver then your current instructor would want to take you to your test: the DVSA track our pass rate, so if you are a guaranteed pass then I’m sure your existing instructor will take you!

Are you the problem?

How an instructor chooses to tell you that they are refusing to take you to your test, depends on how they think you will react. If they think you’ll be happy to listen to their advice and accept that you are not ready, then they’ll tell you. However, if you are the sort of person who thinks they know better than the instructor, and will be argumentative or aggressive, then it’s more likely the instructor will avoid confrontation and simply be “fully booked”.

Personally, I don’t let my learners get into this situation anyway. With on-going honest feedback during every lesson, and with my policy of only booking a test when you will be ready, there are never any unwanted conversations at the last minute.

So will you take me to my test?

If you have contacted me asking if I can take you for your driving test next week, then the following will happen.

  1. I will be very sceptical when you tell me your instructor has “let you down at the last minute”.
  2. I will not let you use my car. Why would I hand someone the keys to the most expensive thing I own when I’ve never seen their standard of driving.

What can you do? If you believe you are the required standard to take the driving test, then ask a family member to insure you on their car and take the test in it. If they say, “NO”, then ask them why not…it’ll probably be the same reason why I won’t let you use my car either.

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