I received a call recently from a parent, enquiring about driving lessons for her daughter and was advised that she had to pass her test within the next three months, because she was about to go to UNI.
I asked if she had any previous experience and was told that she had watched mum and dad from the front passenger seat and therefore knew about changing gears.
Further discussion revealed that Sally was a complete beginner and had never sat in the driver’s seat of a car.
Mum further advised that Sally was nervous but liked to get things right first time or she became frustrated – I advised there would be times when she wouldn’t achieve success at the first attempt and that valuable learning can be obtained by realising our mistakes and devising ways to put them right.
As a Coach, I explained, I utilised “Client-centred learning” where the pupil is encouraged to play a central role in the learning process; a system whereby I would elicit information through discussion.
Mum decided that a 22 hour course would be adequate – a decision that should have been made after discussion had taken place and perhaps an assessment lesson.
Parents quite often do this and I liken it to bypassing the GP and simply asking for a prescription from the receptionist instead of seeking specialist, professional advice.
Happily, most parents prefer to discuss the Course with the ADI.
Sally’s mum advised that she preferred her daughter to take and pass the theory test before starting lessons.
This happened some four weeks later, after Sally had passed at the third attempt; so now we had a little over two months in which to prepare Sally for her test – or so I thought.
Her first lesson began with an introduction to the controls, followed by moving off for short distances, before making normal stops; and all seemed fine until Sally started to change from first to second gear.
Her co-ordination needed lots of work and I needed to dissuade her from looking down at her gearstick, which caused her to steer off course.
Several times during the lesson we stopped and I used coaching conversations and scaling exercises to establish how she felt and to discover what would make her feel better about her performance.
Sally’s lesson drew to a close and it was then that she dropped the bombshell.
Apparently she didn’t have to pass in time for UNI but mum had thought it quite a good idea; furthermore, mum had booked Sally’s driving test and this itself was proving like a big black hole for Sally.
We had just over TWO WEEKS until test day and this young lady would never be ready – not due to any lack of skills, but because of the pressure placed on her by her mum’s expectations.
I asked Sally if it would be ok for a three-way chat with her mum, where she could put forward her feelings and I could be on hand to give my input.
Sally, her mum and I sat in her kitchen whilst Sally outlined her case about why she was apprehensive and finding learning a little daunting.
Her mum seemed determined at first, though I added that Intensive courses don’t suit everyone and with Sally’s availability and the timescale before test day, we would have to do some six-hour days; I had mentioned this and Sally had been horrified.
Did she think that loading Sally’s brain intensively over such a short period, would adequately equip her for today’s roads? She confessed that she thought not, though she couldn’t see an alternative.
Out came the calendar, along with my diary and we began to formulate a plan.
Amazingly, Sally was going to UNI in Manchester and had preferred to commute, rather than live in Halls; she would have weekends free and it seemed, Monday and Thursday afternoons and all day Friday.
So I suggested we look at shorter lessons, but spread over a little longer period of time.
Both agreed and Sally’s mum added that they would also look at rebooking the driving test – after having a chat with me thankfully.
Now Sally could develop her skills in time-honoured fashion, whilst having the benefits of client-centred learning.
I assured her mum that, whilst a lot of courses were structured to cram in the hours over a relatively short period, leading up to the test, we at TRISTAR had developed what we call our “Flexi-Intensive Courses,” which were more “elastic-sided” and took account of School, College and UNI timetables.
I advised mum to look at our website http://tristardriving.co.uk/tristar-flexi-intensive-courses/
Sally took her test in late October and passed, with three driving-faults; she’s enjoying UNI and also enjoying the sometimes-frustrating drive up the M6 – though she feels better about that after a couple of motorway lessons.