H is for How Many Hours to Work

When you are a new driving instructor, or are a trainee, you may find it difficult to work out how many hours you need to work to make a living. You need to pay the mortgage or rent, pay the bills, have enough money to eat. And then you’ve got to factor in your business expenses.

That’s relatively easy with a calculator and a notepad. But what about tax and national insurance? How do you factor that in to your calculations?

To help you, there is a free Excel spreadsheet which lets you work it out.

Enter your living expenses in the left hand columns. It doesn’t matter if they are weekly, monthly, or yearly: the spreadsheet will do the maths for you.

Then enter your business expenses in the same way. The spreadsheet is pre-filled with common items such as car lease, fuel etc but you can also add your own.

From there, the spreadsheet will perform some calculations on your living expenses and business expenses. Then it will estimate your tax bill for the year, look at your hourly rate and magically tell you how many hours per week you will need to work. Remember this is the number of hours of lessons: don’t forget to allow time for admin and travel.

You can download this spreadsheet for free.

Upgraded Version

You may also wish to take your forecast further. With this upgraded version you can factor in much more:

  • Holiday weeks from your franchise and car lease payments
  • Additional income sources such as pensions, partner’s wages, state benefits etc
  • Forecast the effect of increasing your hourly rate!

This upgraded version is available to purchase and you will be able to download it straight away. If you can increase your hourly rate by £1, this might be the best £4.99 you spend.

W is for Working with the Best!

Inclusive Driving is proud to work with the top support companies as awarded by Intelligent Instructor.

Each year, the Intelligent Instructor takes votes on the best companies and service providers for Driving Instructors. Our chosen partners have claimed the Top Three places in the awards. You can be sure that with Inclusive Driving, you are being supported by the very best!

Winner of Professional Support Provider of the Year: MyDriveTime

As those of you who learn with us know, Inclusive Driving uses an app called My Drive Time to keep track of your lessons and progress. This is also the app that you have on your own phone to remind you of lesson times and let you see your learning records.

Highly Commended: Driving Test Success 4 in 1

With the Pass Guarantee, and the ability to link it with the MyDriveTime app, DTS came in as Highly Commended.
If you haven’t downloaded it yet, remember we refund the £4.99 cost of this app when you take your driving test with us.

Download it today:
Apple / Android:

Highly Commended: Marmalade Insurance

And the Insurance Company we always recommend also featured in the Top Three professional support companies.

Learner Driver insurance without affecting your parent’s no-claims. Get a quote here

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We couldn’t be the driving school we are, without a little help from these three companies.

T is for Theory Test App

The way we provide your free theory practice is changing

Inclusive Driving has always provided free access to the Driving Test Success Anytime website. This has allowed us to monitor your progress in studying for your theory and hazard perception test, at no cost to you. However, web-based resources are old-fashioned and phone apps are the new preferred method of study.

We will continue to offer you free theory training by using the phone app from the same company: it is now called Driving Test Success Theory 4-in-1. Look for it in your Apple or Google app store. Make sure you download the correct app: Driving Test Success Theory 4-in-1

Initially, this app will cost you £4.99 but we will refund this amount when you complete your driving journey and take your practical driving test. The app does not expire and always contains the latest practice questions, video clips, and other information.

Pass Guarantee

The Driving Test Success 4-in-1 app includes a unique Pass Guarantee offer that sees your £23 test fee refunded if you fail your theory test! It’s a built-in insurance policy, which ensures you’re fully prepared to pass. We think this provides brilliant value for money.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3

1. Link the apps

Purchase the Driving Test Success 4-in-1 app (£4.99) then link it to MyDriveTime via the Student App.

(This will be refunded on the day of your driving test by reducing the lesson fee by £4.99)

2. Practice & prepare

Work through the full DVSA question bank and hazard clips, taking mock tests until you are ready.

3. Monitor your progress

Your instructor can view your activity and performance in real-time via the MyDriveTime student record to keep track of your progress and support you during lessons with anything you are finding more difficult.

Access to the existing DTS Anytime platform will be removed in March.

H is for Help with Expired Theory Certificates

Many learners have found that during Lockdowns 1,2 and 3, their theory certificates have expired, and for many Inclusive Driving customers, it wasn’t easy to gain your certificate in the first place. Unfortunately, there are no government plans to extend them, as this would require a change in legislation.

We will pay for your theory test

But it’s good news for Inclusive Driving customers: if your Theory Test Certificate expired between 23rd March 2020 and 11th April 2021, we will subsidise the cost of taking your next theory test.

Show your original (expired) and new theory test certificates, and we will subtract the cost of retaking your theory test (£23) from the cost of your lesson on the day of your practical driving test.

Terms

To qualify for this offer you must satisfy all of the following:

  1. You must have been an active Inclusive Driving customer prior to 23rd March 2020
  2. You must have had a practical driving test booked and cancelled between 23rd March 2020 and 11th April 2021
  3. Your theory test certificate must have expired between 23rd March 2020 and 11th April 2021
  4. You must retake your theory test before 11th October 2021
  5. You must take your subsequent practical driving test before 31st December 2021

Inclusive Driving will reimburse the cost of your first attempt at retaking your theory test by subtracting £23 from the cost of your driving lesson on the day of your driving test.

G is for Going Automatic

Going Auto in June 2021

Here at Inclusive Driving, we think differently. It’s time to embrace automatic as the future. Car manufacturers are already embracing it, as are the government, with a proposed ban on conventional petrol and diesel engines by 2030. This means that new cars will be hybrid-electric or full-electric and, the overwhelming majority of these are automatic.

Inclusive Driving has decided to make the switch to automatic, and has ordered a new car for June 2021: a Toyota Corolla Hybrid. Had we not experienced a 3-month lockdown in March 2020, we would have been switching next week.

Not an inferior option

It used to be that Automatic was the inferior option. Automatics were less reliable, less fuel-efficient and, when you passed your test you were severely restricted in your choice of car. While passing your driving test in an automatic will still mean you cannot drive a car with a manual gearbox, it is no longer as big a deal as people think. Even Driving Instructors are clinging to manual cars, as though it is somehow better.

Fuel-efficient driving

On paper, automatics powered by conventional petrol or diesel engine are slightly less fuel-efficient than manuals. However, the biggest factor in fuel-efficiency is your driving style. And with automatics requiring little judgment of when to change gear, overall they work out just as efficient; possibly more so.

We are excited: automatic fits in with our environmental policy. We would love to go fully electric but at the moment, logistics at home for effective recharging, make it impractical at the moment. Our plan is to be electric, with 100% renewable energy by 2023: still, seven years before the UK government makes it compulsory.

Testing times

Sadly, multiple periods of lockdown due to Covid-19 means that the transition to auto will not be as smooth as we had originally planned; and for those of you who particularly want to pass the driving test in a manual car, there is now a bit of time pressure.

Driving lessons are provisionally due to resume on 12th April 2021, giving a window of about seven weeks to take a test in the current Ford Fiesta manual before we make the switch.

We will do everything we can to support you before this deadline arrives. And no need to worry … I have a number of very instructor colleagues who will still be offering manual lessons after this date, and I trust them implicitly.

Disability

Secretly, we wanted to go auto two years ago when Inclusive Driving was born, as auto is also superior when it comes to learning to drive with dyslexia, dyspraxia, and many other disabilities … and that’s what Inclusive Driving is all about. It was again, down to purely practical matters surrounding leaving a national driving school and setting up our own company that kept us teaching manual.

As always, if you have any questions then please do contact me. I really look forward to supporting you and, as we approach the 2nd anniversary of Inclusive Driving being a thing, here’s to the next two years!

N is for News (2nd July 2020)

Driving Instructors are receiving a trickle of information each day, mostly concerning when testing will start, how we need to stay safe during lessons, and how tests will be conducted. This is the main focus of this week’s newsletter, as it contains some very important (and controversial) points. We also have news on our latest environmental statement.

Theory tests are opening
  • Theory test centres reopen on 4th July
  • To prevent delays, get your theory test booked as soon as you feel ready (nag nag!)
On the day of your driving test
  • Face-coverings (of a type suitable for public transport) will be compulsory for driving tests (I am also making them compulsory for lessons)
  • Controversial: for a driving test to go ahead, you will need to confirm that you are participating in the NHS Test-and-Trace scheme. However, as far as I know, there is no way for an examiner to confirm your status, other than asking you. I am sorry if you feel strongly about this; please note that participation in the tracing scheme is not compulsory for lessons.
  • Although many of you have planned for your instructor to sit in the back of the car during your test, this is not currently being allowed (I suspect that an exemption might be made if your instructor is also your BSL interpreter). Please bear this in mind and let me know if you would prefer to defer your test until instructors are allowed to accompany again. I do not know when the policy will change.
  • Waiting rooms and toilets at test centres will be closed: please plan accordingly.
  • During the test, if you make a fault that would cause you to fail (ie a serious fault), you will not complete the remainder of the test route. You will be directed back to the test centre, and the test will be ended early.
We are still the only Carbon-Zero driving school in the West Midlands
  • We were the first driving school in Central England to be carbon-zero/climate-positive, and we are pleased that other schools are following our lead.
  • We are offering free advice to other driving schools that want to go carbon-zero.
  • Our 2020 environmental statement is now online.
  • From July 2021 we will no longer be offering manual gears: we will be switching to automatic only.

Have a great weekend and we will see you on a driving lesson very soon!

W is for WE ARE BACK!

Driving lessons resume from Monday 6th July

This message is important. Please ask somebody to help you read it if you find it difficult to understand.

You are also welcome to phone me Monday to Friday between 10am and 1pm if you need advice.


I am so happy to be able to announce that the Government and DVSA have given the green light for driving lessons. Now, remember, that green means go if it is safe! To achieve this level of safety there will be a number of procedures in place, and this is what I’ll discuss below.

Before I dive into this, though, there is an important announcement about driving tests.

Driving test bookings
  • All driving tests have been cancelled by the DVSA while test centres are made “covid-secure”. Even if your test was previously cancelled and rebooked, it has been cancelled again.
  • The DVSA are not rebooking tests automatically. Booking will reopen in phases, starting with candidates who originally had tests in March, then April, then May etc. There is a UK backlog of approximately half a million driving tests to catch up and rebook: there is going to be a long wait, I’m afraid.
  • You (or your instructor) will receive a notification when the booking website reopens for each individual candidate, and together we will discuss a new date.
  • If you were test-ready, you will be offered “keep in touch lessons” on an occasional basis, and “refresher lessons” leading up to the new test date. Keeping your skill level high will mean we could take advantage of short-notice cancellations for driving tests.
  • If your original test date was booked in anticipation of you being test-ready by the time the test date came around, naturally you will need additional lessons so that you still reach the required standard.
Driving lesson bookings
  • Contactless payment in the car, or payment in advance via the website or bank transfer is preferred whenever possible.
  • Where possible, lessons will be booked on the same day as your previous lessons, however please bear in mind that I am teaching fewer lessons each week due to the additional time taken between lessons for cleaning.
  • Priority will be given to students who secured their lessons under the Bounce-Back scheme.
Pre-lesson health screening
  • A few days before each lesson, you will receive the usual reminder text message.
  • If you have Covid-19 symptoms (high temperature, persistent cough, loss of sense of smell) then please inform me: you will not be penalised for a genuine cancellation due to coronavirus.
  • The evening before a lesson, you will receive another text message asking you specifically about your health. Please reply accurately and honestly; again, you will not be penalised for a genuine cancellation due to coronavirus.
  • At the start of the lesson, I will carry out a non-touch health check before you get in the car. This health check will include questions about your health, a confirmation that you have washed your hands, and a temperature check using a no-touch thermometer.
  • You will be offered hand sanitiser gel which must be used before entering the car.
  • The car will have been cleaned following the previous student’s lesson, and you are welcome to inspect the cleaning log.
  • On entering the car you will be offered disinfectant wipes to clean the car controls (steering wheel, handles, mirror controls, indicator stalk, seatbelt buckles etc) to your satisfaction.
Personal Protective Equipment
  • You will not be expected to wear gloves during your lesson
  • Your instructor may wear gloves for individual students if it is likely that the instructor will need to take control of the steering wheel.
  • You will be expected to wear a face-covering which complies with the requirements for public transport.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks. The government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home, using scarves or other textile items. These face coverings should cover the mouth and nose while allowing the wearer to breathe comfortably and can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head to give a snug fit.

  • Remember, if you wear glasses, a face-mask may make your glasses steam up, so keep them spotlessly clean to minimise the risk of fogging up.
  • Reasonable exemptions will be considered for students who lip-read.
Driving tests (on the day)
  • The test itself will not change. The required standard and what you will be expected to do during the test will be the same.
  • Waiting rooms will be closed, with no access to toilets.
  • Driving instructors will not be permitted to accompany you (sit in the back) on your driving test.
  • At the end of the test, instructors might not be able to listen to the result and debrief.

I is for Important

If you are one of my Special Needs students, please ask someone to help you read this. Or please phone me between 10am and 1pm any day if you need me to help you.

At 5pm today, all driving instructors in the UK received the following email from the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

The take-home message is that all driving tests are further suspended and are not being automatically rebooked.

When tests restart, you and I together will need to go online and rebook


Message follows:

Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency

Dear

I wrote to you on 22 April 2020 to set out the steps that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has taken to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and what support the government has put in place for you.

I now want to update you on the planning we’re doing to help return to life that is as close to normal as possible, as quickly and fairly as possible, in a way that avoids a second peak of infections.

The plan to rebuild: the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy
On 11 May 2020, the government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy which:

sets out the progress the UK has made to date in tackling the coronavirus outbreak
explains the plans for moving to the next phase of the response to the virus
Our priority remains to protect the public and save lives. That’s why any easing of measures must meet the government’s 5 tests. These are:

Protect the NHS’s ability to cope.
A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from COVID-19.
Reliable data showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.
Be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand.
Be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.
Driving instruction and driving tests
Other than emergency training and tests for critical workers, driving instruction and driving tests have not yet been able to restart because the risk of transmission of the virus in vehicles is higher.

In his statement on 10 June, the Prime Minister reiterated that the government will remain cautious and measure the effect of the changes it makes. The Prime Minister explained this means moving slower than we’d have liked in some areas.

Driving instruction and tests will only restart when the government is confident that the assessment of risk warrants it, subject to the 5 tests and further detailed scientific advice.

In the meantime, I want to re-emphasise that you should continue to limit driving lessons to critical workers who are preparing for an emergency driving test.

Once again, I would like to thank those of you who have been able to offer driving lessons to critical workers during these unprecedented times.

We will, of course, share more information with you as soon as it’s available – including the dates that driving instruction and driving tests can restart.

Planning to restart our services
Teams across DVSA have been working extremely hard over the past few months to make sure we’re in the best possible position to restart our services as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Our priority is to make sure that you, your pupils and our staff stay safe.

The work is split into these main areas:

preparing guidance for driving examiners on carrying out driving tests
making sure our driving test centres are ready to reopen
making sure we have PPE in place
understanding which driving examiners might not be able to return to testing straight away
planning driving test schedules so that anyone who had a test cancelled because of coronavirus is considered a priority
understanding how the situation might be different in England, Scotland and Wales
I want to explain what each of these involves in a little more detail.

Preparing guidance for driving examiners
We are reviewing and updating the guidance for driving examiners about carrying out driving tests. This includes things like the PPE they need to wear, greeting candidates and cleaning equipment such as sat navs and tablets.

We’re also working hard to make sure we’ll be able to quickly help the NHS Test and Trace service (Test and Protect in Scotland, and Test, Trace, Protect in Wales) should a driving test candidate or driving examiner develop symptoms in the days after a test.

Making sure driving test centres are ready to reopen
Some of our driving test centres have now been closed for 12 weeks. We need to make sure they’re thoroughly checked before we can reopen them.

As just one example, we need to make sure the hot and cold water systems are free from legionella bacteria (which causes Legionnaires’ disease).

Many of the contractors that we rely on to do this work also put their services on hold during the lockdown. We’re busy working with them to get our test centre network safe and ready.

Making sure we have PPE in place
To help keep you, your pupils and driving examiners stay safe, we’ve ordered PPE for all driving examiners. This includes face coverings and gloves.

Since the start of pandemic, there has been a high demand for this type of equipment. Like many organisations, we’ve had to wait for supplies to become available.

Understanding which driving examiners will be available
As you’ll appreciate, some of our driving examiners are either clinically vulnerable from coronavirus, or extremely vulnerable. Others might live with or care for people in those groups.

We’ve been working with all our driving examiners to find out more about their situation so we know how many will be able to return to carrying out driving tests as soon as we’re able.

Planning driving test schedules
When we suspended driving tests, we rescheduled all your pupils’ driving tests to a named date and time.

But we now have 3 issues to think about:

rescheduled dates might not be suitable for you and your pupils, as situations may have changed
not all driving examiners will be available
social distancing measures might limit the number of tests we can carry out
This means we need to think about the best way to make sure your pupils can take their test at a convenient time, in a way that’s fair to everyone.

The fairest way we can do this is to put all the rescheduled tests ‘on hold’.

This means the test will no longer go ahead on the originally rescheduled date.

We will then ask people in the backlog to go online and choose their preferred date and time. We’ll invite them to do this in batches, based on when their test should have originally taken place.

We will contact you before we start this process, so you can make your pupils aware of what’s happening. We will also contact them directly with more information.

We are also planning how we can continue to help critical workers to get a test as a priority throughout this process.

Understanding how differences in England, Scotland and Wales might affect us
As you will be aware, public health is the responsibility of the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales. This means that there are currently different lockdown rules in place for England, Scotland and Wales.

We are talking to the devolved administrations about how this might affect us restarting our services in Scotland and Wales

N is for News (10th June 2020)

Getting you booked in the diary

The world is slowly getting back to normal. But it will take a while. Just a simple back of the envelope calculation shows that the lock-down will have been responsible for a backlog over the UK of about 450,000 driving tests.

It’s not good news for trainee driving instructors either, as it’s likely that their final exams will be pushed back to accommodate normal learner tests.


To those of you who pre-booked under our Bounce Back Offers: a sincere “Thank you”. This has let me plan my business much better, and has genuinely helped the business survive when many other small businesses have been forced to close.

We will be contacting students in three stages.

Bounce-Back Students

We will be contacting all pre-booked bounce-back students next week to pencil you in the diary for lessons, estimating a start date of 6th July. As we have said right from the start, this start date is subject to Government approval and the lock-down being eased according to plan.

Deferred-Test Students

We will then contact all students who had a test booked but had it rescheduled to due Covid-19. Unfortunately, due to the massive backlog of driving tests, I fully anticipate test dates being cancelled and rebooked again.

Existing Students

Existing students who have not secured their place through the bounce-back scheme, and do not have a test booking, will be contacted very soon. There are a small number of places left on the offer to secure your place… see below … but I’m afraid you’ve missed the early-bird discount.

New Students

Only when we have looked after our existing students will we take on new students from the waiting list.


New car costs slashed by nearly 25% as showrooms get back to business
New car costs slashed by nearly 25% as showrooms get back to business

Car showrooms across England have dramatically lowered their prices in a bid to lure buyers after lock-down.


Scrappage scheme for petrol and diesel cars welcomed by motoring and environmental groups
The average lifespan of a car in the UK is just over eight years

The UK is considering launching a new car scrappage scheme in which drivers could be given up to £6,000 to give up their petrol or diesel vehicles for an electric model


Skoda unveils safety tech to better protect cyclists

In honour of Bike Week (6-14 June), Skoda has announced details about the 2020 Octavia’s new safety tech – designed to prevent collisions with cyclists and pedestrians.

Q is for Queue

We are doing this post in two parts, as there are two types of queue to discuss

  • Slow-moving traffic on single-lane and multi-lane roads e.g. dual carriageways
  • Approaching roadworks where traffic is merging to one lane.
Slow-moving traffic

If it’s rush hour, and traffic is moving slowly, it’s frustrating! Constant start-stop-start-stop (repeat ad nauseam). By holding back a little from the car in front, you can smooth out all of those start-stops in to a longer movement. Every time you can keep moving, you save a little fuel, reduce your emissions, and lessen your frustration. And you’ll find that the car behind you saves fuel too, all thanks to you.

If you’re on a multi-lane road e.g. a dual carriageway, then you may find that the two lanes are moving slowly but at slightly different speeds. Lane 1 might go faster than lane 2 for a few car-lengths, then lane 2 might move faster than lane 1 for a few car lengths. In these circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable to overtake on the left if you are in lane 1, moving past traffic in lane 2.

Roadworks

As you approach roadworks, you may see signs advising of a lane closure. The most common (but wrong) practice is for motorists to get themselves into the lane which does not close, very early, and stay there. They will then think that anybody passing them, in the lane which is going to close in 800 yards, is “pushing in” or “queue-jumping”. They are not!

Highway code rule 134 actually advises to use both lanes and merge-in-turn when you actually reach the roadworks. This is considered normal practice in all other European countries!

So as you head to the front of the queue, remember that the only reason people are queuing is because they have created a queue unnecessarily!

Sometimes it’s worth remembering a rule number from the highway code, to shout at motorists who think you are in the wrong. Rule 134 is one of those.

(The other one is Rule 170)

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