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What we learned from the 2023 driving instructor survey

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors, Feature


Today (Thursday 10 August 2023), we’ve published the results of the 2023 working as a driving instructor survey.

First, I want to thank every one of the 5,795 people who spent time filling in the survey. I know it can be easy to be sceptical about filling in surveys, but your feedback is really important.

The survey looked at these main topics:

  • about your business
  • managing your business
  • your work
  • skills and resources
  • continuing professional development
  • health and wellbeing

I won’t repeat all the results that are in the report - but here are some headline figures:

  • 62.2% of ADIs spend at least 25 hours working as an approved driving instructor (ADI) each week
  • £31 to £35 is the most common price charged for a one-hour lesson - 46.6% of ADIs charge this
  • 29.8% of ADIs currently have availability to take on new pupils
  • 90.8% of ADIs agree the role gives them a sense of personal accomplishment
  • 85.2% of ADIs intend to continue in the role for at least the next year
  • 53.6% of ADIs have done some form of continuing professional development (CPD) in the last 12 months
  • 59.3% of ADIs have experienced musculoskeletal problems in the last 12 months

Do take a look at the full report which shows things like:

  • which region has the highest proportion of ADIs charging £36 or more a lesson
  • how time qualified as an ADI affects average lesson prices charged
  • which region has the highest proportion of ADIs with availability to take on new pupils
  • which region has the highest proportion of ADIs taking continuing professional development (CPD)
  • who’s more likely to have done any CPD - newly-qualified or longer-serving ADIs

View the working as a driving instructor survey results for 2023.

Listening to your feedback

As well as asking questions where you selected the most appropriate option, we also asked a number of open-ended questions for you to give more details. Thank you to everyone who took their time to do this.

We received thousands of comments. To help get the results of the survey into your hands as quickly as possible, we’ve analysed random samples of comments to put them into themes. But the full set of comments will be reviewed and shared around teams within DVSA.

We’ve heard loud and clear what your priorities are. I want to address 3 of them here.

1. Driving test waiting times

Understandably, we heard lots about how driving test waiting times are affecting you and your pupils. And you’re absolutely right to ask for more to be done.

Dealing with driving test waiting times continues to be our top priority at DVSA.

Many of you commented about how bots and unofficial booking services are making your working lives harder. Loveday Ryder, our chief executive, recently blogged about how we’re dealing with bots and reselling of driving tests. We’ll be telling you more about our plans on this soon, too.

I do want to highlight how your hard work is paying off, though. Recently published statistics from the Department for Transport show that between April 2022 and March 2023, 816,775 people passed their car driving test – the previous year, 751,914 people passed.

That’s helping the country’s economy. It’s helping people to become independent and unlocking opportunities for them. It’s transforming lives - and not just your pupils - but their families, friends and colleagues’ lives. You should be proud of how your hard work is making a real and lasting difference.

And the latest statistics show that more people than ever who are passing their driving test are doing so with zero faults. Between April 2012 and March 2013, just 1.5% of people who passed the car driving test passed with zero faults (a ‘clean sheet’). Ten years on, and that’s increased to 3.9%. It’s an indication that those who are passing are better prepared than ever.

So thank you for having those difficult conversations with pupils and parents. Thank you for every early start or late finish you’ve done to accommodate pupils. Thank you for being out in all weathers. And thank you for every lesson you rearranged when another test-ready pupil found an earlier appointment at short notice.

2. Support and guidance

We heard lots from you in the survey about needing better support and guidance. If you’ve had chance to read DVSA’s vision to 2030, you’ll have seen that we want to do much more work to inform, educate and advise. So it’s really encouraging to hear you saying the same.

It’s great to see that more of you than ever are aware of some of our newest guidance, with about 9 in 10 ADIs now aware of the ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign resources. We’ll continue adding to the toolkit in the coming months with exercises you might want to use with your pupils.

ADI standards check guidance

After listening to you, our immediate priority is going to be improving guidance for the ADI standards check.

We’ll shortly be moving to recording ADI standards check results on tablets in the same way we do for other tests. We’re going to use the opportunity of confirming results by email to give you links to more comprehensive guidance to understand your result. And this guidance will be available for you to see before you take your standards check, too.

We’ll also use the same improvements to benefit people taking the ADI part 3 (instructional ability) test.

Other improvements to help you

We’re also going to:

  • refresh our guidance on top 10 faults in the driving test, giving you common scenarios that you can include in your lesson planning when appropriate
  • start looking at what we can do to make the national standard for driver and rider training and learning to drive syllabus clearer and more user friendly
  • start work to develop a series of emails that we’ll send to newly qualified ADIs to support them through the initial months after qualifying
  • publish a series of ‘easy read’ guides to help your pupils with learning disabilities to understand the learning to drive process – including how the theory test and driving test work

3. Continuing professional development (CPD)

Thank you for all the comments you made about CPD in the survey. It was great to see so many of you passionate about this topic.

The survey shows that just over half of you (53.6%) have done some CPD activities in the last 12 months. It also shows that about 6 in 10 of you (61.8%) agree that you can access the right CPD when you need to.

Over the coming months we’ll be working with you to help you understand more about what types of things can count as CPD, and what topics could help with your development.

We held a joint workshop with the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) on Tuesday 1 August 2023 to start planning what we can do. We’ll be blogging about this workshop separately soon – so please look out for that landing in your inbox.

Lots more to come

I’ve touched on a few of the main topics in this blog post, but the survey results reveal a lot more.

This blog post is the start of the conversation about how we’ll start to take those findings forward. So you can expect to see us talking about them a lot more in the coming months.

View the full findings from the survey

View the working as a driving instructor survey results for 2023.

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  1. Comment by Ray Brown posted on

    Interesting reading, however I still think pupils shouldn’t be allowed to book their own tests unless we as ADI’s sign off a form to allow them to book the tests. We have a percentage per category to keep otherwise we are subject to a standards check which is unfair knowing the pupil isn’t ready to book a test.

  2. Comment by Andrew Ross posted on

    Hi Andrew here,
    My thoughts and many others, we need a system where driving instructors have to sign that pupils are test ready, the pass rates would increase dramatically, going down this route the candidate would have no more than say 4 weeks to wait, secondly everyone should be instructor trained ,allowing of course for private practice.
    The test should be conducted in an instructors car, it can be done.
    Regards Andrew.

  3. Comment by Hamid nasir posted on

    Good informatibe

  4. Comment by Mark Cornford posted on

    Very interesting results and clearly your summary picks out the majority of areas you thankfully have little control over. If you did maybe we would be in a bigger mess as an industry ? The two massive areas you do control you are very ineffectual with. These being the test waiting times and the attitude or soft skills of DVSA staff. Very little concrete comments on these.

  5. Comment by Sam posted on

    Regarding the six month wait for a driving test. Wouldn’t it be better if only driving tests can be booked by an ADI and flagged up if someone is booking too many? So they can’t be picked up by bots. Our job is so hard atm as they book their test, then use a cancellation app and we can’t manage our diaries or our tests anymore. It makes our job so stressful.

  6. Comment by Inderjit soor posted on

    Please STOP the buying and selling of dates as it's unfair for adi who taking the stress of teaching the public to drive while ANYONE can sit at home with a laptop and bolt systems to snatch dates for FREE and sell them for £100s to people who cannot afford them.The public are not happy it's not dealt with properly by the dvsa .

  7. Comment by Paul Noble posted on

    I mentioned before that more people with mental health problems are applying for driving lessons,but you haven’t mentioned anything about that.

    • Replies to Paul Noble>

      Comment by John (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Paul

      Thanks for your comment.

      With research published by NHS Digital showing 1 in 4 people aged 17 to 19 had a probable mental disorder in 2022, it’s more likely than ever that ADIs will be training pupils who have conditions such as anxiety.

      In this summary blog post, we haven't been able to cover every comment that was left in the survey. The full report does cover a section on the challenges that ADIs are facing. 6% said pupil behaviour was a challenge - which included nerves and poor mental health.

      But as Amanda said in her post, all the comments are being shared around teams in DVSA. And this blog post is just the start of the conversation about the results. There’s lots more to come.

      Best wishes

  8. Comment by Barry Raynor posted on

    Blame the bots!
    Of course, it cannot be the shortage of examiners for the backlog of tests.

  9. Comment by David Featherstone posted on

    No mention about getting the examiners to work to the same standards and to have consistency and pride in their work.

  10. Comment by Katie posted on

    Thank you for your email. I really do hope something can be done to stop 3rd parties ripping clients off with test dates. Taking money of students and not booking them a test date. Pupils are desperate to get dates & whilst they say £62 test fee £80 admin fee & £50 slot fee are being advertised on instagram & WhatsApp & ripping pupils off. It’s absolutely ridiculous should be stopped straight away & allow pupils to book on the system directly themselves. Appreciate all you can asap plz.

  11. Comment by Steve Ladhams posted on

    Thank you for the update and I look forward to the forthcoming information and workshops.
    In relation to the backlog of tests, could you pplease consider allocating say a rolling five tests to ADI’s, maybe one a month on a trial basis, maybe in just one area initially ( Basingstoke would be great as I have 8 students ready for their test but unable to book them). I have signed up to book tests myself but have similar difficulties as my students.
    I think allowing an initial limited supply to ADIS will improve the standards of students as we can manage their development in line with a forthcoming test.
    Just a thought 🙂

  12. Comment by Ted posted on

    I think you should do the Business to why not we are having a problem they all want to give you the lessons and lessons but when is time to book for your Test they don't do it if you want to book it your self you don't know if they are available or not which most of them not so you end up taking more lessons as refreshments and refreshing lessons and you end up with a licence but with out no money never mind for a car not even for a petrol to buy if you are lucky enough

  13. Comment by Jon posted on

    I have not seen any evidence of dvsa taking responsibility for their own actions.
    The dvsa is wrong is blaming adi/pdi for students failing test due to nerves.
    Why are Dvsa blaming instructors for students who fail?

    • Replies to Jon>

      Comment by John (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Jon

      Thanks for your comment.

      We do need to be really clear on this point. We have never said that ADIs are to blame for pupils being nervous - or that this is the an ADI’s fault.

      The opposite is true. Our ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign acknowledges that nervousness is a natural reaction to tests and exams. It acknowledges that nerves are always going to be there -

      It also goes on to explain that learning how to manage nerves is a vital skill for new drivers - not just for passing the test, but for driving safely in situations where the driver might experience nerves.

      With research published by NHS Digital showing 1 in 4 people aged 17 to 19 had a probable mental disorder in 2022, it’s more likely than ever that ADIs will be training pupils who have conditions such as anxiety.

      For any ADI who feels that nerves are a significant factor in their pupils’ unsuccessful tests, we’d recommend:

      1. Offering to sit in on their pupils’ tests, and explaining the benefits this has - although we appreciate this won’t be right for every pupil. Then the ADI can see how their pupil performs, and make an assessment of how nerves contributed to faults they made - and can then work with their pupil on strategies to manage their nerves in this situations.

      2. Considering what continuing professional development (CPD) would help them develop their skills in coaching their pupils to manage nerves.

      Best wishes

  14. Comment by Robert Joyner posted on

    I'm so pleased that the above vision to help instructors and greatly improve future driver standards is taking shape and look forward to more of this guidance becoming available.

  15. Comment by Kim freeborn posted on

    I am trying to get tests 3 times a day on the website, there is nothing available in farnborough, reading or guildford areas. I have a pupil that failed with only 1 driver fault on 8/2/23 and still cant get a test, also others cannot get another test unless wales, scotland or up north or further away where i cannot take them. We have had 2 examiners leave farnborough test centre also. About 3 pupils that have had to retake their theory as havent been able to get a test in 2 years! I have many pupils who cannot afford or want to carry on taking driving lessons because there are no tests available. Something needs to be done for us in this area as our poor pupils cannot get on with their lives and get the jobs they need and i worry more people will be driving wuthout a

  16. Comment by George Flathers posted on

    How is it possible for spy bots or anyone else for that matter to book and block book driving tests without a Theory Test number??
    Surely if you need a Theory Test certificate number to book a test. This should stop any block booking by spy bots.

    • Replies to George Flathers>

      Comment by John (DVSA) posted on

      Hi George

      Thanks for your question.

      Bots use driving licence numbers of provisional licence holders who have passed a theory test within the last 2 years.

      It's not possible to book a driving test without a valid theory test certificate in place.

      Best wishes

      • Replies to John (DVSA)>

        Comment by George Paul Flathers posted on

        Hi John,

        Thanks for the information regarding bots booking tests. I would have thought that drivers licence numbers were protected under data protection!!
        How on earth do these bots get access to this personal information???

        Kind regards


        • Replies to George Paul Flathers>

          Comment by John (DVSA) posted on

          Hi George

          You're absolutely right that driving licence numbers are classed as personal information.

          Depending on the terms and conditions and privacy notice of the service that learners have used, they might have unwittingly given their details to a company that said they will use their details to reserve appointments in this way.

          This is why it's really important that learner drivers are vigilant and check how their data is going to be used before they give it away.

          Best wishes

          • Replies to John (DVSA)>

            Comment by George Paul Flathers posted on

            Thanks John, that makes sense now.
            Best wishes

  17. Comment by Paul Noble posted on

    Thank you for your response , when I said mental health problems, I wasn’t talking about nerve’s I talking about real mental health problems,ADD,ADHD,and so on.
    In regard of nerve’s on a driving test
    I take someone for a test if they can drive safely with no help from me.
    What ever route l take them on and I don’t mean test routes.

    • Replies to Paul Noble>

      Comment by John (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Paul

      Thanks for the clarification of what you meant.

      Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a type of condition known as a neurodevelopmental condition.

      ADHD is not a mental health condition, but evidence suggests that people with ADHD might be more likely to develop a mental health condition. For example, they might struggle with anxiety or depression.

      There's some useful information on the Young Minds website:

      Best wishes