The training to become an Approved Driving Instructor is very thorough and should not be entered lightly.
There are a number of routes to training to be an instructor. Larger schools offer training, and local independent instructors along with separate organisations that focus purely on the development of instructors.
The best advice I've read over recent years is. 'Find an Instructor Trainer don't, look for a school'. If you want to join XYZ School of Motoring, they may not have the best trainers to meet your aims, but once qualified you can then choose and look at the options available.
The majority of driving instructors are independent, the larger schools only provide a small proportion of approved driving instructors. Driving Instructors are mainly self-employed even those working under a franchise.
The role of a driving instructor varies day to day. You meet many different students with varying different challenges and it is your role to support them achieve their goals.
Each student will learn at a different rate and have different goals to another. You will need to manage your diary, be flexible in your working hours and be very customer focused.
Your career is very rewarding. Seeing your clients achieve their goals provides a lot of job satisfaction.
Receiving reviews and referrals makes you realise you are are meeting your customers requirements.
You have to declare you’ve read this guide when you apply to become an approved driving instructor (ADI). It tells you everything you must know about:
your responsibilities as an ADI
the qualification and registration process
the role and powers of the ADI Registrar and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Driving instructors: rules and responsibilities
To accompany a learner driver, you must:
be 21 or over
be qualified to drive the same category of vehicle you’re supervising them in
have had a full licence for that category for at least 3 years
To legally charge anyone money (or monies worth) for driving instruction in a car, you must either:
be on the ADI register
have a trainee driving instructor licence
It’s illegal to charge someone for driving lessons if you’re not qualified and registered, or if you do not have a trainee driving instructor licence.
When you’re giving driving lessons, you’re responsible for your own safety, that of your pupil and other road users.
You have to show a:
high regard for all aspects of road safety
high standard of driving and instructional ability
professional approach to your customers
responsible attitude to your pupils and profession
You must display your ADI registration certificate (commonly known as an ‘ADI badge’) or trainee licence while giving paid instruction.
How ADIs are regulated
When you qualify, your name is added to the register of ADIs.
The ADI Registrar is responsible for the ADI register. The Registrar works for DVSA.
The ADI Registrar can:
refuse to let you join the register or stay on it if you do not meet the registration rules
remove you from the register in certain circumstances
refuse to let you rejoin if you were previously removed from the register
The ADI Registrar acts on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport when they:
ask you to give information to register or stay on the register
make decisions about your registration
Being a ‘fit and proper’ person
You must be a ‘fit and proper’ person to be an ADI.
ADIs are in a position of considerable trust. The ADI Registrar protects the image of the register and maintains the public’s confidence in the ADI industry.
What ‘fit and proper’ means
The law says you must be a ‘fit and proper’ person, but does not define what it means.
The ADI Registrar interprets it as the personal and professional standards, conduct or behaviour that could be unacceptable in the eyes of the public and other ADIs.
It’s not possible to be definitive about what’s classed as ‘fit and proper’. There has to be some discretion to take into account the circumstances of each case.
The ADI Registrar makes an assessment of the risk you’re likely to pose to the public.
When deciding if you’re a ‘fit and proper’ person, DVSA will check if you have:
any motoring or non-motoring cautions, convictions or fixed penalty notices
been disqualified from driving
any court proceedings pending against you
been banned or barred from working with children under 18 years of age
had any substantiated complaints of inappropriate behaviour or misconduct
had any substantiated complaints for financially inappropriate or fraudulent activity
Sources of information
This information comes from a number of sources, including:
application forms and information you give
DVLA records (to find out if you have any motoring offences)
enhanced level Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
reports from the police or barring information from DBS
complaints made to DVSA by the public
The ADI Registrar is allowed to get other information during your registration period that they reasonably need. This includes:
DVLA reports of motoring convictions
information from the police about allegations and motoring or criminal cautions or convictions
information from complainants, including successful applications to a court or bank to reclaim money that had been paid for driving lessons that were not provided or refunded
Code of practice
DVSA and the driving instruction industry have an agreed voluntary code of practice on professional standards and business practices.
It gives a summary of the conduct and behaviours that DVSA and the public expect from an ADI.
Having a criminal record check
You’ll have a criminal record check when you apply to become an ADI, and each time you apply to renew your ADI registration.
Having a criminal record will not necessarily stop you from becoming an ADI.
You could be committing a criminal offence if you try to work as an ADI if you’re banned or barred from working with children under 18.
Factors taken into account
Before reaching a decision on whether you’re a ‘fit and proper’ person, the risk you’re likely to pose to pupils is assessed by considering factors like:
whether the caution, conviction or other information revealed is relevant to the ADI role
the seriousness of any offence
the circumstances surrounding an offence and the explanation
the length of time since the offence occurred and if it’s ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
whether there’s a pattern of offending behaviour
whether the circumstances have changed since the offending behaviour
Each case is considered on an individual basis. The ADI Registrar will write to you giving you the opportunity to explain your circumstances before making a final decision.
Offences where it’s unlikely you’re ‘fit and proper’
There are some situations where it’s unlikely that:
applications to start the qualification process or registration would be accepted
you’d be allowed to continue to use a trainee licence
you’d be allowed to remain on the register once qualified
These include both motoring and non-motoring offences.
You cannot apply to become an ADI if you’ve been banned (disqualified) from driving in the last 4 years.
It’s also unlikely that you’ll be classed as a ‘fit and proper’ person if you’ve been found guilty of:
driving whilst disqualified
driving under the influence of drink or drugs
driving without due care and attention
failing to stop after an accident
failing to give information as to the identity of the driver
driving without insurance
driving while using a hand-held mobile phone
Many of these offences will result in 6 or more penalty points being put on your driving licence.
The ADI Registrar has refused applications or removed an ADI from the register when they’ve had 5 or more penalty points within the last 3 years under the ‘totting up’ rules.
You’re unlikely to be ‘fit and proper’ if you’ve been cautioned for or convicted of:
sexual assault - in particular, offences involving pupils
making, possessing or distributing indecent or pornographic images
an offence of a sexual nature involving children
perverting the course of justice
possession or supply of drugs
fraud - in particular, offences involving illegal driving instruction
theft - in particular, offences involving the theft of tuition fees
You’re also unlikely to be ‘fit and proper’ if you have:
any court judgements against you for failing to provide lessons for which you have been paid
been placed on the sex offenders register
been banned or barred from working with children under 18 years of age
Protecting your criminal record check data
Information on a criminal record certificate is only seen by DVSA staff who need to see it as part of the suitability assessment process. They have:
been suitably trained to identify and assess the relevance and circumstances of offences
received appropriate guidance and training in the relevant legislation relating to the employment of ex-offenders, such as the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
Becoming a driving instructor
You must meet the legal requirements to start the qualifying process.
The process you have to follow will depend on your situation.
Before you start, use the ADI job preview service to find out:
what it’s like being an ADI
whether you’re suitable for this kind of work
your level of understanding of driving theory and practice
Train to become an ADI
You can use books and software from DVSA to help you qualify. They’re also available from most high street and online book shops.
Take a training course
Many organisations offer training to become a driving instructor.
You can find training provided by people who have joined the DVSA voluntary official register of driving instructor training (ORDIT).
Take the qualifying tests
The 3 qualifying tests make sure that you meet the national standard for driver and rider training.
You must have booked the ADI part 3 test within 2 years of passing the ADI part 1 test. You have to restart the process if you do not qualify by then.
ADI part 1 Theory unlimited attempts
ADI part 2 Driving ability 3 attempts
ADI part 3 Instructional ability 3 attempts
You have to restart the process if you use up all your attempts. You have to wait until 2 years after you passed the ADI part 1 test before you can start the process again.
Trainee driving instructor licence
You can apply for a trainee driving instructor licence after you pass the ADI part 2 test.
This allows you to get 6 months experience of providing on-road instruction before your ADI part 3 test.
The ADI Registrar can refuse your application for a trainee licence if you’re not a ‘fit and proper’ person.
Getting another trainee licence
You can apply for another trainee licence when it expires. You can do this if you feel you have not had the full benefit out of it. You’ll need to give evidence to support the reason.
It’s unlikely you’ll get another licence just to give you more time to pass the ADI part 3 test.
Tell DVSA if you stop using your trainee licence. This will count in your favour if you need to apply for another licence.
The ADI Registrar has refused applications for another trainee licence when the applicant had not reasonably attempted the ADI part 3 test during the 6-month period covered by their previous licence.
Register as an ADI
You can register as an ADI when you’ve passed all 3 qualifying tests. You must register within one year of passing the ADI part 3 test.
You’re then allowed to:
call yourself a ‘Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor (Car)’
charge money (or monies worth) for giving driving instruction
apply for permission to use DVSA logos to show you’re approved
register to have your details shown on the GOV.UK service to find driving schools, lessons and instructors
Your registration will last for 4 years.
When you’re an ADI
You’ll be training drivers to meet the national standard for driving cars and light vans. It sets out the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to be a safe and responsible car or van driver.
You can use the learning to drive syllabus as a way of teaching people the skills, knowledge and understanding.
How busy you are and how much you earn will depend on your ability to market your skills. You’ll generally be in competition with other ADIs.
Your salary will be reduced by running costs such as fuel and tyres.
Working for a franchise
You may need to pay franchise fees if you work for a franchise.
Running your own driving school
You can start your own driving school. You need to set up as a sole trader to do this.
You’ll need to provide your own dual-control car that meets the rules to be used for driving tests and pay for repairs and insurance.
Book and take your pupils for their driving tests
Your pupils can either book their tests themselves, or you can book them.
You can use services to:
book and manage driving tests for your pupils
book and manage theory tests for your pupils
You can sit in and observe your pupils’ driving tests but you cannot take any part in the test and you must follow certain rules.
There are different rules for filming or recording a driving test.
Professional standards and skills
DVSA encourages you to join ADI associations and organisations so your interests are properly represented in talks. Each organisation has its own terms and conditions.
You can sign up to the voluntary code of practice agreed by DVSA and the driving instruction industry.
Develop your professional skills
DVSA encourages you to take continuing professional development (CPD). This is voluntary development to keep your skills up to date.
You decide how you do it and pay any costs involved.
Take the DVSA special test for instructors
You can take the voluntary DVSA special test to test your driving skills to the highest standard.
At the end of the test, you’ll get a grade gold, silver, bronze or fail. You can use it when you advertise your services.
Manage your ADI registration
You’re responsible for your ADI registration, including renewing it and keeping your registration up to date.
You must write to the ADI Registrar within 7 days if you get a caution or conviction. This includes:
getting a binding over order (being ‘bound over’)
having your name entered in the sex offenders register
being banned or barred from working with children
any motoring or non-motoring offence, including penalty points
Read about how to manage your registration.
You must update your ADI registration within 7 days if your name or permanent home or business address change.
Take ADI standards checks
You must take and pass at least one ADI standards check during each 4-year period you’re registered as an ADI.
The purpose of the check is to make sure you have kept up your standard of instruction.
The ADI Registrar will write to you to tell you when you have to take one.
You can be removed from the ADI register if you:
fail to meet the required standards
fail to attend the standards check when required
refuse to take the standards check
Renew your ADI registration or re-register
You’re responsible for renewing your ADI registration every 4 years.
You must get a criminal record disclosure check before you renew your registration.
You must still be a ‘fit and proper’ person.
Re-register as an ADI
Being removed from the ADI register
You’ll get a letter from the ADI Registrar if they intend to remove you from the ADI register. You’ll have the opportunity to respond and give them any supporting evidence.
The ADI Registrar will look at all the facts of the case and will make a final decision. You’ll get a letter to tell you about the decision.
Usually, your name will not be removed from the register until 28 days after the date of the letter. This lets you appeal against the decision.
Your name will be removed from the register if you do not appeal.
Immediate removal process
The ADI Registrar can also use the immediate removal process where you’ll be told that your name will be removed from the register within 14 days, unless:
you appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber within 10 days of the date of the removal letter
your appeal is upheld
Having your registration suspended
The ADI Registrar can suspend your ADI registration immediately if they think you pose a significant threat to public safety.
You cannot get paid for giving driving instruction while you’re suspended.
Appeal a registration decision
You can appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber if you disagree with a decision the ADI Registrar makes about your registration.
Keeping up to date
You should sign up to get email alerts from DVSA on issues affecting ADIs, including things like:
changes to the driving test
new services for ADIs
changes to driving test centres in your area
DVSA runs the Despatch blog for driver and rider trainers, which gives official advice and information for you.
You could miss out on important information if you do not sign up for email alerts and the Despatch blog.