Professional driving instructors have been regulated since the 1960s to help ensure that people receive a minimum standard of training. Regulation was put in place by creating a register of approved driving instructors (the register). Those on the register are given official approval as approved driving instructors (ADIs). The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is the regulatory body and the register is managed by the Registrar on behalf of the Secretary of State. The regulatory framework also covers the qualification process that people must pass to enter the register. Only those on the register, or potential ADIs that have been granted a trainee licence by the Registrar, can give in-car driving instruction for money or reward.

Great Britain has some of the safest roads in the world. ADIs have contributed to this. We want to build upon current best practice and the knowledge, skills and understanding already held by ADIs. DSA has published an evidence-based ‘National standard for driving cars (category B)’ which sets out the competences required to be a safe and responsible driver. The supporting ‘National standard for driver & rider training’ sets out the competences required by professional instructors to deliver effective driver training

The Old Check Test

The old check test did not cover all the competences introduced by the National standard. The assessment form did not help an ADI to understand their strengths, or where necessary the required development.

DVSA therefore introduced a new 'standards check’ on 7 April 2014. The new assessment form, is more directly linked to the objectives of the ‘National standard for driver & rider training’ and focuses more on the skills, knowledge and understanding required from an ADI to help facilitate effective learning.

The new form also provides better feedback to ADIs at the end of the test, without the need for a separate letter, enabling them to better understand their strengths and identify those areas where they should improve their level of competence.

AS IT IS NOW Overview

The approved driving instructor (ADI) standards check assesses your ability to teach pupils.

The ADI standards check has replaced the ADI check test.

You have to take at least one ADI standards check during each 4-year period that you’re registered as an ADI.

You have to take a standards check even if you don’t have a car or aren’t working as an ADI.

You can be removed from the ADI register if you don’t book or go to your standards check.

You can only take standards checks in English or Welsh.

There are different rules for taking a standards check in Northern Ireland.

Book your ADI standards check

You’ll get a letter from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) when you need to book your approved driving instructor (ADI) standards check.

You can book a standards check online. It doesn’t cost anything.

You’ll need your:

  • driving licence number
  • ADI personal reference number

Click here to book your Standards Check.

What to take to your standards check

You must take:

  • your approved driving instructor (ADI) registration certificate
  • a car that meets the requirements
  • a pupil - Your pupil can’t be an ADI or someone who is preparing to take the ADI part 3 test. They can be a learner or a full licence holder.
Car requirements:

The car you use for your standards check must:

  • be roadworthy, safe and reliable, i.e. it’s less than 3 years old or has a valid MOT certificate
  • have working rear seat belts
  • be fitted with L plates (or D plates in Wales) if your pupil is a learner

You can’t use:

  • a soft-top convertible
  • a car with a 2+2 seating arrangement rather than full-size rear seats

Your standards check will be cancelled if your car doesn’t meet the requirements. Another appointment will be booked for you.

You can be removed from the ADI register if you keep bringing a car that doesn’t meet the requirements.

Bad weather

You should call the standards check bookings team as soon as you can on the day of your standards check if there’s bad weather. Ask to speak to the ADI examiner.
If nobody answers the phone, and the conditions in your area aren’t looking too bad, it’s likely that the examiners are:

  • achecking the local roads to see if driving tests can go ahead
  • taking driving tests because the conditions are suitable

However, this isn’t a guarantee that your standards check will go ahead. You should tell the standards check bookings team if your check is cancelled - they’ll make a new appointment.

ADI standards check booking team
Telephone: 0300 200 1122
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

Find out about call charges

What happens at the standards check

A driver and Vehicle Standards Agency examiner will watch you give a normal driving lesson to your pupil.

The examiner will look for evidence that you meet the National standard for driver & rider training.

National standard for driver & rider training:

For further study the references below contain information that is relevant, but not exclusive, to this competence. Your goal should be to become fully familiar with the entire National standard for driver & rider training.

Bad weather

You’ll be marked on 17 areas of competence that are grouped into 3 categories:

  • lesson planning
  • risk management
  • teaching and learning skills

The 17 areas of competence are listed in the ADI standards check report form which the examiner will fill in during your check.

You’ll get a score from 0 to 3 for each of the 17 competencies, which are added up to work out your grade.

After you give the lesson, the examiner will discuss your performance and give you your grade. This will take about 15 minutes.

You can take your trainer or mentor with you, but they can’t take part in the lesson.

Your standards check result

You’ll get your grade, along with your completed standards check form at the end of your standards check.

Total score Grade Description
0-30 Fail Your performance is unsatisfactory
31-42 Grade B You’ll stay on the approved driving instructors (ADI) register
43-51 Grade A You have shown a high standard of instruction and you’ll stay on the ADI register

You’ll automatically fail if:

  • you get a score of 7 or less in the ‘risk management’ category
  • the examiner stops the lesson because you’ve put yourself or someone else in danger
If you fail the standards check

You’ll have up to 2 more attempts to pass the standards check.

If you fail 3 times:

  • you’ll be removed from the approved driving instructors (ADI) register
  • you’ll have to retake the ADI tests to join the ADI register again
Complain about your standards check

Complain to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency if you’re not happy about the way your standards check was carried out.

Appeal your standards check

You can appeal if you think your examiner didn’t follow the regulations when they carried out your standards check.

Your result can’t be changed, but you might be able to take another standards check if your appeal is successful.

Contact your local magistrate’s court within 6 months to appeal in England and Wales.

If you live in Scotland, contact your local sheriff’s court within 21 days.

Old 'ADI check test' grades

The approved driving instructor (ADI) standards check replaced the ADI check test on 7 April 2014.

Old ADI check test grades will apply until you take your first standards check.

If you got a grade 2 or 3 in your last ADI check test, you’ll have 2 attempts to pass the new ADI standards check.

Working to the National standard

During your standards check, your examiner will be looking for evidence that you meet the National standard for driver & rider training.

You’ll be marked on 17 high level areas of competence that are grouped into 3 categories:

  • lesson planning
  • risk management
  • teaching and learning skills

The 17 high level areas of competence are listed in the ADI standards check form, which the examiner will assess during your check. Look at these before you take your standards check, so you know what the examiner will be assessing.

Lesson Planning

You need to show you can adapt your lesson plan, where appropriate, to help your pupil work towards their learning goals.

You shouldn’t stick to a planned lesson because the needs of your pupil might change throughout the lesson and it’s important you can adapt to that.

Risk Management

Another area instructors commonly fail on is not giving pupils enough feedback on any potentially dangerous situations.

As well as providing your pupil with timely and appropriate feedback, it’s important that if they make any serious or dangerous faults they know what they’ve done and why it’s dangerous.

It’s up to you to make sure they understand this, so they don’t make the same mistake again.

Teaching and Learning Skills

You need to be able to show you can teach your pupil in a style that’s suited for them. This means using methods that work best for them. For example, when giving verbal directions, your pupil might find it easier if you referred to left and right as ‘my side’ or ‘your side’.

It’s important you give your pupil appropriate and timely feedback rather than giving it all at the end of the lesson. Having regular discussions throughout the lesson helps your pupil understand what they might have done wrong.

You should encourage your pupil to analyse problems and take responsibility for their own learning. For example, if your pupil forgot to check their blind spot before pulling out, you might:

  • ask them if they know what they did wrong
  • explain why they need to make sure they check their blind spots next time
At the end of the test

At the end of the standards check your examiner will give you feedback about any areas where you need to develop.

You can refer to the national standard for driver and rider training to help you understand what you could be doing differently.

If you fail the standards check, the examiner will recommend that you seek further development from an ORDIT instructor trainer.

Client Centred Learning (CCL)

The key principle here is that DVSA have moved away from an Instructor Approach – ‘fault based’ assessment, to a CCL approach.

Car driving implies constantly making choices, the learner should see themselves differently as a result of the learning experience, and i.e. they should see themselves as somebody who can make choices, who can think about what they are doing. The whole process exists to provide that person with the best possible environment in which to learn what they need to learn.

Recent research has clearly identified that driver education needs to focus on a much wider range of subject areas. These topic areas include: fatigue, drugs, peer pressure, the context in which driving takes place, etc. These areas have little to do with the actual skills of driving but inform how these skills are deployed by impacting on the decision making process

In order to produce more blended, safer and responsible drivers we need to:

Adopt a CCL approach focusing on developing the learner’s own ability to assess their responses to situations and develop appropriate coping strategies.

DVSA state that during the standards check, the key thing is that the ADI must demonstrate they can find out exactly what it is the pupil wants from the lesson and put together a plan to deliver that. They must, of course, spot and deal with bad habits that might have been acquired. However, the lesson must take the pupil forward in their learning. If it does not deliver what the pupil is looking for they will not engage with the learning process.

The Top 5 Reasons why Instructors FAIL the Standards Check

DVSA’s latest analysis shows the top 5 areas where instructors fail to demonstrate competence are where they haven’t:

  • adapted the lesson plan, when appropriate, to help the pupil work towards their learning goals
  • taught the lesson in a style suited to the pupil’s learning style and current ability
  • encouraged the pupil to analyse problems and take responsibility for their learning
  • given the pupil appropriate and timely feedback during the session
  • given enough feedback to help the pupil understand any potentially safety-critical incidents