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Making the conduct expected of driving instructors clearer

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On 17 February 2018, the government published a new version of the approved driving instructor (ADI) register guide. It explains what’s involved in being an ADI – it’s vital reading, whether you’re just starting out, or have been qualified for years.

The guide has been improved to include everything you need to know about qualifying and being an ADI. It should make it faster to find what you need.

Jacqui Turland, ADI Registrar has taken this opportunity to review the ‘fit and proper’ criteria for ADIs, which is now part of the guide. In this post, Jacqui explains some more about inappropriate behaviour and how it will be dealt with.

Protecting and improving the reputation of the ADI profession

The ADI Registrar has 3 goals:

  • to make sure every ADI maintains and improves their instructional ability;
  • to make sure every ADI is a fit and proper person;
  • to protect and improve the reputation of the ADI register – and every ADI who meets the standards

ADIs are in a position of considerable trust. The government know that the vast majority of you have the highest of respect for that trust and conduct yourselves with the utmost professionalism.

However, there are some people who don’t have that same level of respect. They cause the public to question the professionalism of instructors and threaten to damage the reputation of the profession. They perpetuate outdated stereotypes and caricatures.

You’ve worked hard to qualify as an ADI and be on the register. The government won’t let people threaten to undermine that achievement by bringing the ADI register into disrepute.

Dealing with inappropriate conduct

The ADI Registrar can remove an instructor’s name from the register if they stop being a ‘fit and proper’ person. The ADI register guide sets out what’s meant by this, and the process for removing someone from the register.

Here are some examples of how certain types of inappropriate conduct might be investigated and dealt with.

1. Contractual issues

Most reports received are about contractual issues, such as:

  • lessons that are shorter than agreed;
  • the instructor arriving late;
  • the instructor cancelling lessons;
  • failing to provide lessons the pupil has paid for in advance.

With the learner driver’s permission, the government will pass the report to the instructor and invite their response.

A record will be kept on the instructor’s file, and if a pattern emerges, the process will be started to remove them from the register – not solely relying on a criminal conviction or caution.

2. Mobile phone use

Make the Glove Compartment the Phone Compartment

The ADI Registrar does get reports about instructors using mobile phones to text and call other customers during lessons.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while carrying out instruction is illegal. As the accompanying driver, the instructor should be in control of the vehicle at all times.

Anyone convicted will receive 6 penalty points, and at that point, consideration can be given to removing their name from the register.

As it’s illegal, doing this is also setting a terrible example to the drivers of tomorrow.

It is also poor customer service to a learner who is paying for an instructor’s time. The same rules apply to using a tablet to record a pupils’ progress or to show a diagram or video. However, it’s legal to use a tablet when the car
is safely parked and the engine is off.

3. Disrespectful behaviour

The national standard sets out the skills you need.

You’ll be disappointed to know The ADI Registrar has to deal with reports of instructors being impatient or shouting and swearing at pupils.

This type of behaviour is unnecessary, disrespectful and extremely unprofessional.

Experiencing something like this can destroy someone’s confidence, put them off wanting to drive, and make it hard for them to trust any future instructor. It’s something that is taken very seriously.

The national standard for driver and rider training describes the skills you need to make sure pupils engage with the process of learning to drive.

4. Serious inappropriate behaviour

The ADI code of practice sets out how ADIs should behave in their personal conduct and business dealings.

You’ll also be shocked to know that the ADI Registrar does receive reports of serious inappropriate behaviour.

These range from using sexualised language, unnecessary physical contact, through to inappropriate messages or images being sent to pupils.

This is totally unacceptable. It can make the victim feel shameful, humiliated and helpless. It can lead to anxiety and depression. And it won’t be tolerated.

Any allegation of inappropriate behaviour will be fully investigated and support given to anyone wishing to take a case to police.

If someone is convicted for this behaviour, The ADI Registrar will start the process to remove them from the register. In cases where there’s no conviction, removal from the register will still be considered if it is believed they pose a significant risk to pupils.

The ADI code of practice sets out the behaviour DVSA, the ADI associations and the public expect.

If you agree to follow the code, you can confirm this by updating your ADI registration
. You can then use the ‘ADI code of practice – I’ve signed up’ logo on your website or literature.

5. Intimate relationships with pupils

Most of you know it’s completely unacceptable and unprofessional to start a sexual relationship with someone you’re teaching.

While it’s not unlawful to have a consensual sexual relationship with someone over the age of consent, this is seen as exploiting the position of trust the instructor is in – particularly if the pupil is vulnerable.

Anyone under 18 is legally a child. This means that local safeguarding teams, including police and local authority designated officers, will be involved in such a report (either from the pupil themselves, or one of their relatives).

There will be no hesitation to remove any instructor considered to be a risk to learners.

Protecting learners, protecting you

As mentioned earlier, the ADI Registrar knows that the vast majority of you conduct yourselves with the utmost professionalism and they hope you agree that dealing with inappropriate conduct is vital to protect learner drivers, and to protect you and the reputation of the ADI profession.

We’re raising awareness with learner drivers and parents about what they should expect from their driving instructor.

There’s information on GOV.UK for learner drivers about how to complain about a driving instructor.

If you get any pupils who tell you they’ve experienced inappropriate conduct from another instructor, please do explain to them that they can tell us about it.

Every report is taken extremely seriously.

See the full article here on Despatch, the Government blog.

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