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Modernising motorcycle training roadshows

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Motorcycle trainers

Motorcyclist adjusting wing mirror

Since my previous blog, we’ve now completed our roadshows, so I want to give you an update on what was discussed and answer the questions that were raised at the ten locations across the country.

All the events were well attended and we received a positive response. Thank you to those of you who took time out of your busy schedules, to attend and listen to what we had to say and also ask questions. It was good to meet new faces and reacquaint ourselves with some old ones. You asked a lot of interesting questions and I’ll try and answer as many as I can here.

Standards checks

As you’d expect, there were lots of questions about the standards checks. You wanted to know how we would support trainers who weren’t successful during their standards check. We’ll provide feedback at the time and will email the trainer and the Approved Training Body (ATB) a copy of the report. We’ve also published the notes for guidance for the standards checks – these explain how we’ll assess you and what we expect of you.

You wanted to know what to do if you disagreed with the result of your standards check. The assessor will always provide a debrief about the training they saw and will also give the trainer the opportunity to explain their method of training.

If you still feel you didn't get a proper or fair assessment, you can contact the CBT Register Manager or CBT Control Manager.

A few people asked if we can take away a trainer’s certificate. Trainers who deliver unsatisfactory training will have the opportunity to improve before taking another assessment. However, if all else fails and the instructor continues to show an unsatisfactory level of instruction, DVSA will remove their certificate of authorisation.

I want to stress we don’t set out to remove someone’s certificate – we’d far rather they improved their performance and raised their standard of training.

There were questions about unannounced visits and whether we can do this. The answer is yes – we’ve always done these in the past but in small numbers; we’re now using evidence and information to target these unannounced visits and there will be more of them.

Theory test

Several of you suggested that new riders should take the theory test before gaining their provisional licence.  Also, that they should take (and pass) the theory test for bikes before attempting CBT.

We recognise your concerns about poor theory test knowledge and that many of you have different views on this. This would need a change in regulations and we’ll be consulting on this suggestion during summer 2016.


You asked if there would be any external courses or instructor training available. Again, this is something that we’re looking at. In particular; updating the instructor qualification process and improving standards.

It was also suggested that motorcycle instructors should have a three part qualification route, similar to approved driving instructors and limiting a down-trained certificate.

You had also expressed concern about the time it was taking to get an assessment at Cardington. We’ve recently increased the resource at Cardington for these assessments and plan to train more staff next year.

Our aim is to make it more straightforward for people to qualify whilst making sure trainers have the skills, knowledge and competencies to train riders properly and safely. We’ll be working closely with the training industry and representative bodies to discuss and decide the details. Once we’ve achieved this, we’ll hold some more roadshows to let you know what is planned.

Approved Training Body (ATB)

We had lots of questions and suggestions on this, with issues ranging from teaching pupils whose second language is English to collecting data for DAS candidates’ failures on test, the cost of CBT, re-joining the register after removal and being licensed to an individual ATB.

All of these are something we’re keen to address. Teaching a pupil whose second language is English is something we’ve been looking at and we’ll be providing separate guidance on this. Watch this space.

Thank you for suggesting collecting data for DAS candidates’ failures on test, potentially highlighting those trainers who don’t provide a high standard of training. This is an interesting idea that we’ll be looking at in the future, possibly as part of the earned recognition scheme.

The idea of introducing a maximum and minimum price for CBT, to provide a more consistent standard and stop unscrupulous trainers wouldn’t be feasible. As a regulator, we couldn’t impose varying prices across the country and of course, this would have seasonal implications too.

I can’t stress enough the importance I place on a trainer being registered to an ATB.  The ATB is responsible for each trainer and ensures they know what the trainer is doing and when. We have no plans to change the way our training industry is structured – around the ATB.

Allowing someone to re-join the register after we’ve removed them has always been contentious. We’ll be reviewing the regulatory powers relating to this as part of next summer’s consultation, whatever we must ensure we take a balanced and fair approach. However, we can still (and will) take the right action against those that don’t comply.

Operational issues

We heard a lot about the availability of tests, the number of motorcycle examiners and your concerns about the loss of skilled staff and the levels of resource in the CBT team.

I’m pleased to tell you that we’re actively recruiting new examiners, for all disciplines and more people into our CBT examiner team.

I’m sorry we haven’t been keeping you updated about staff changes in your area and who your local contact is. So, I’m arranging for a poster to display in all test centres telling you the contact name and details.  In the meantime please either call the CBT enquiry line on 0115 936 65647 or email

Course content

Some of you asked for guidance about pupils wanting to retake their CBT after the 2 year expiry date.  The pupil must always complete the whole syllabus; this shouldn't be a problem in you are delivering client-centred training. You can achieve this by tailoring the course to the needs of the pupil, whilst still following the CBT syllabus. We shouldn’t encourage ‘permanent learners’, it has to be more training with a view to holding a full licence.

Your pupils can find out more information about learning to ride on the Safe Driving for Life website

And finally…

I want to thank my colleagues Chris and Nick for their hard work in making the roadshows happen, along with the others who helped plan and organise the events; this included the local staff at the test centres. I’d also like to thank all the trainers who were able to attend.

Do respond to this blog, I can’t answer every individual post but I’ll be keeping an eye on what you have to say and will update you on our progress.

Finally, please remember that you can get all the latest information by signing up for DVSA direct email alerts

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  1. Comment by Gareth Davies posted on

    "We shouldn’t encourage ‘permanent learners’"

    Doesn't matter whether you encourage them or not, as long as the rules allow them they will exist in large numbers. Unless you change the rules (e.g. 2 year CBT validity and can only be taken every 3 years) I'd argue you have no choice but to accept permanent learners. Giving them a lecture will serve no purpose.

    • Replies to Gareth Davies>

      Comment by Nigel Osborne posted on

      Conversely, neither do they suddenly become dangerous at 1yr 366 days so the justification for an effective ban is slim.
      I'd rather the test process had been kept slimlined "light touch legislation" as originally promised and more accessible for learners.

  2. Comment by Phil R posted on

    Whilst some in the industry don't like change and extra rules, we have to appreciate that there are still far too many serious road collisions and that has to be addressed at some point,
    The riders of the future should be well trained so that they are equipped to ride safely for life, not just to a basic standard to "get through" a CBT or test.
    It is always questionable even with a thorough CBT completed in one day how much of that training stays in the memory of the new rider for them to use over the course of the next two years. A longer more paced CBT course is, to me, more desirable in respect of safety and quality; though maybe not for commerciality.
    But as trainers we are well placed to make a difference to an individuals ability to ride, and that maybe the difference between their life or death.
    It has got to be right, and I am pleased to see the recent developments that are being encouraged into rider training.
    Although the latest "changes" are only what has been happening at good training schools anyway.
    With regards to collecting data for DAS test failures as part of an instructors quality, there needs to be great care taken with this idea. Data from a pure pass/fail aspect will ignore many factors and could prove deceptive.
    Even the best most fantastically trained student can miss a speed limit sign or make some other error that results in a serious fault on test which is not a direct reflection on their training.
    I would argue that a student with 2 minors and 1 serious fault for a silly mistake could well be a better trained rider than one who passes with 9 minors! But would the data reflect that for the instructor?

  3. Comment by bill morgan posted on

    just get rid of the CBT make everyone sit a test the same as any other vehicle

  4. Comment by Bill Whitelaw posted on

    It concerns me that any trainer does not understand the importance of CBT. Can such a person be expected to provide a satisfactory standard or simply sign off DL196s? Perhaps this was intended as a joke!

  5. Comment by Steve posted on

    ALL motorcycle training should be at a legal maximum of 2;1 ratio at ALL times. (C.B.T, A1, A2, A, B2B & E.R.S.) This would hugely increase safety & standards of what is offered by "our industry"
    Everyone has the right to start an ATB but we must remove the dangerous practice of allowing someone to start one by allowing them to buying 4 cheap/second hand bikes from Ebay and then paying "downtrained" instructors £40 a day to "teach" 4 people!!
    If we had 2:1 then the playing field is level & there would be no cutting corners?? The only exception could be a higher ratio for the class room based elements of CBT (A & D)
    (Mod's B, C & E must be 2:1)

    A (Road user?) theory test must be taken before a provisional driving licence is acquired, i.e. the same for ALL road users (car & bike) Otherwise we are just going to put another barrier to becoming a powered two wheeled road user.

    In the "new" instructor qualification, the ability to supervise another instructor must be removed until after someone is fully qualified & has taken a separate supervisor course. (linked to the ATB?)

    Collecting data on full licence pass or fail would only be useful if it was linked to electronic CBT data recording as well, so that you could follow someone's progress. To commit to changes and cost on just the full licence would be a pointless (and very expensive) exercise!

    Thank you for arranging these road shows, mostly good stuff, shame some of them were spoiled by people just using it as an excuse to do "DVSA bashing" but those of us that have been around for a while are used to this. 🙂

  6. Comment by k brindle posted on

    Every new road user should take a theory test before being alowed on the road.After reading some of the comments ,its obvious that they dont run a business or they run a business from there home or garden shed !! .Those of us who have premises full comp insurancs,ect,know how expensive it is to run a training school.with fewer young people taking up motocycling as they are unable to ride something descent until they are19 and then have to take two tests!!,its no wonder we are in decline, and lets not forget we have to keep the cost down so the less well off can afford to take a CBT, otherwise they will ride without one !!! .DVSA are struggling like all goverment departments ! more work, less staff, and most understand the difficultes of running a training school and lets face it there is always someone to talk to if problems occur.

  7. Comment by Scouse posted on

    Again the DVSA are focussing on the CBT, what about the introduction of fair test allocation per school as per the norm we can only log on again on aTuesday to buy the tests, great for the DVSA crap for us as schools.

    You are getting to a point where gain the schools can not get tests due to your regime of not being able to provide the examiners which are needed, the amount of test given back should be assessed on an individual basis if the school is buying to many then handing back at the last min, this is a bad practices but this is the only practice we have been allowed to practise due to buying at such an early date then having to fill the space, again you should penalise the training school who gives it back, if its given back with in 3 week 35 % of fees returned 2 weeks, 50% of fees returned if return in 7 days 75% loss of fees it would make everyone buy more precise test and not on a whim !

    Again with examiners, if the centre has two examiners the then week 1 one on mod 1s 1 on mod 2s and vice a versa not just trying to fill spaces because deployment has planned it that way, you would find that schools not only would fill spaces but be more than willing to get as many students to test as they could.