Find a Driving Instructor
Not only do you have to find a driving instructor with a good reputation, but you also need to make sure you book driving lessons that fit your budget, goals and learning style. The process of finding the best driving school in your local area can take days, weeks or even months to complete.
We’ve created this comprehensive guide, to make it easier and quicker, to find a driving instructor to learn to drive with. This guide will teach you everything you need to know, from what to look for in a driving school, to how to book driving lessons online and everything in between.
Riders can check out our guide on how to find motorcycle lessons.
How to find a driving school near where you live
Once you have made the decision to learn to drive, one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself is, how can I find a driving instructor near me? It might seem a little daunting at first, but there are a number of ways you can do so.
Seek recommendations from family members and friends
The first place to start when looking for a driving instructor is to ask among your family and friends. If you have a family member or friend, who is learning to drive, or you know someone who has recently passed their driving test, ask them to recommend their driving instructor to you. A recommendation from someone you trust is the best way to find a local driving school.
If you do know someone you can get a recommendation from, it is important to ask the right questions. Try to find out as much information about the driving instructor as you can, before you book driving lessons with them.
Ask questions about the instructor’s personality, as it’s important to pick someone you’ll genuinely get on with. Find out about their teaching style, as people learn best in different ways. Enquire as to how professional they are, as an unprofessional driving instructor can cost you time and money. If the instructor works for one of the large national driving schools, find out what additional support is on offer as well.
Use The DVSA’s Find a Driving Instructor Service
In July 2011, the DVSA launched a new service to help learner drivers find their nearest driving instructor. The service works by allowing you to search for driving instructors using just a postcode. You can use your home postcode to find instructors near where you live. You can also use the postcode of the test centre you plan to take your test at, to find instructors that cover that area as well.
Mike Penning, the Road Safety Minister at the time of the service’s launch, had this to say about the new service;
‘‘This new service will make life easier for learner drivers and parents looking for qualified instructors in their area. I hope that this will allow people to make more informed choices about who they want to teach them to drive – DVSA Press Release
Here’s how you can use the service to find a driving instructor;
- Visit the DVSA’s website
- Click ‘Start Now’
- Enter your postcode, then click ‘Find’
The results page will display the 40 closest instructors, ranked by their proximity to your chosen postcode. You can then refine the results on the page using the following filters;
- ADI CoP
- Standards Check Grade
The Approved Driving Instructor Code of Practice, or ADI CoP, is a set of guidelines that describe in detail how ADIs should behave when working in, or running a driving school. The recommendations are designed to protect learner drivers and guarantee customers a set level of professionalism. The code of practice is voluntary, ADIs do not have to abide by the guidelines, however, you can filter the results to only show instructors who have signed up to them.
In the main, ADIs who follow the guidelines tend to make better driving instructors. When the filter is applied, you also have the comfort of knowing that any instructors on the list, have agreed to hold themselves and their businesses to a high standard. Should any disputes or issues arise in the future, the guidelines work as a set of requirements you can hold the individual or organisation to.
Standards Check Grade
All driving instructors must take the ADI Standards Check, if they wish to join or remain on the ADI register. The standards check is an assessment of the individual’s teaching ability and it must be passed, to either become an approved driving instructor or to remain one.
Instructors are given a score and grade based on how well they performed during the assessment. They can choose to display their results in the ADI register. Learner drivers are also able to filter by this option too.
|Your performance is unsatisfactory
|You’ll stay on the approved driving instructors (ADI) register
|You have shown a high standard of instruction and you’ll stay on the ADI register
Learner drivers can filter the results, to only show instructors who display the score and grade they were awarded. With this option checked, you can then select the instructors awarded the highest score and grade in your chosen location. This is one method you can use to find the best driving instructor near you
The Continuing Professional Development scheme is a voluntary training scheme designed to help driving instructors keep their skills and knowledge up to date. The scheme encourages instructors to work on a range of different areas, from marketing and business development, to improving their client training methods.
Filtering for instructors who have signed up to the CPD scheme is important, as it ensures you’re learning to drive with an individual who is committed to improving their knowledge and learning new things. This should, in turn, lead to higher quality driving lessons.
If you decide to use the service, it’s worth bearing in mind that not all approved driving instructors are included in the database. The service is opt-in for driving instructors, this means they can choose to have their details included in the register or not. Although most ADIs have opted-in to the service, a small number of instructors have chosen not to.
If you find and an instructor who is not in the register, you can find out if the individual is qualified or not by checking with the DVSA. To do so, call the DVSA on the number listed below and quote either the instructors name or their ADI number. Once the DVSA has their details, they’ll tell you if the individual is qualified or not. If they are qualified, they’ll also be able to tell you when the instructor last passed their standards check, but not what grade they achieved when doing so.
Internet search engines
If you are unable to find a recommended driving instructor through family members and friends, the next best place to turn to is the internet. Try searching on Google for driving lessons in [your local area]. Swap out the text [your local area] for your actual town, city or postcode.
You can also try the above, replacing driving lessons with “driving school” or “driving instructor”. Use different combinations of these search terms, to create a list of driving schools in your local area.
Google Local Listing Pack
You can use the listings on Google’s local map pack to create a shortlist of driving schools and instructors near you. When you search for driving lessons near me for example, Google lists the three closest service providers to your current location and displays each provider’s registered address, on a map of the local area.
Each business listing in the local pack map pack includes the name of the company, its Google My Business rating, the number of reviews it’s received, its address and opening times. If you’re viewing on a mobile device, you will also see a call button next to each listing. If you are searching on a desktop or laptop, the call button will be replaced by a website link and directions when appropriate.
When viewing a local listing pack, you can find other companies that provide driving lessons near you, by clicking the button labelled more places. Doing so will open up a larger map with more instructors and schools plotted around your current location. While on this larger map, you can sort the results to display the individuals and companies with the highest ratings first. You can do so by clicking the top rated button.
Once the filter has been applied, make sure you read reviews as well as compare the ratings of the companies in the local area. Doing so will help you pick the best company to learn to drive with.
If you are concerned about the authenticity of any of the reviews you find on these business profiles, click on the name of the individual who left the review, to view their review history. If the individual has left feedback for a number of different companies, across several different dates, the reviews are most likely genuine.
If they’ve left just the one review, it doesn’t automatically make that review fake. A profile with a number of positive reviews, written by individuals who have only ever left one review, is, however, a slight cause for concern.
Social media can be a great way to find a local driving school. You can join the Driving instructors near me Facebook group and read reviews and recommendations of instructors across the country. As well as reading instructor reviews, you can also make it known that you are looking for a driving instructor, by posting in the group as well.
If you decide to post in the group, make sure you include your location and any preferences or requirements you might have. For example, if you are looking for a female driving instructor available in the morning before 9am, state that in your message. Being as specific as possible will ensure you only receive relevant responses.
Many independent driving schools and instructors use Twitter to attract new customers. They use the platform to showcase students who have recently passed with them. They may also use the service to promote testimonials and reviews from current and ex-students. Within these promotional tweets, instructors will often include specific phrases and hashtags, that you can search to find their posts.
Searching Twitter for these phrases and hashtags can help you find a nearby driving instructor. Via the Tweetdeck desktop app, you can set up lists to track phrases, hashtags and users. You can then adjust the proximity setting of each list, to only show tweets from a specific location.
Once logged in to Tweetdeck, set up lists for phrases such as “driving lessons”, “driving instructor”, “driving test” and “driving school”. Once complete, change the proximity setting for each list to your local area. Tweetdeck will now display tweets from any nearby driving instructors who have used those terms in a recent post. You can then reach out to any companies or individuals on your list, that you’d like to book driving lessons with.
Youtube can also help with your search for a driving instructor. Many independent driving schools post driving tutorial videos online. Not only are these videos helpful, but they also give you an insight into the instructors teaching style and personality.
You can find a driving instructor that covers your local area, by searching YouTube, for driving test routes, of nearby test centres. Any instructors that upload videos covering those routes, will most likely work for, or own, a driving school in the surrounding area.
Most driving instructors will either leave their contact details or the details of the driving school they work for or run, in the videos’ description. You can use these details to get in touch with any individuals or companies you like the look off.
You can find recommendations for good driving schools and instructors in online forums. Students often give their feedback on driving instructors in the local area on forums such as The Student Room. You can also read the experiences of parents on this topic, on forums such as Mumsnet.
Forums are a great place to find out information about what to expect from a driving instructor, as well as get advice from learner drivers going through the same process as you.
Classified ads boards
If you’d prefer to learn to drive with an independent driving school, classified ad boards could be a good place to search. Many independent self-employed driving instructors, advertise on classified ad boards such as Gumtree and Freeads.
You can often find a cheap driving instructor by searching through classified ads, however, you must be careful about who you get in contact with. Most classified ad boards do not display reviews of the service provider. As a result, it can be difficult to gauge the instructor’s personality and teaching ability, solely from an online ad.
It is important to research the reputation of any driving instructors you find on classified ad boards. Search their name in Google, Facebook and ask among your social and professional network. If possible, try to find someone you know who has worked with them in the past. If you are able to do so, ask for their honest and unbiased opinion of the instructor or driving school.
Believe it or not, but before the rise of the internet, driving instructors advertised their services by placing leaflets on notice boards and posting them through letterboxes. Although this is no longer the norm, some driving schools do still use leaflets to drum up business. If you live close to a town hall or community centre, check the notice board in the building for any promotional material from a local driving school.
How to compare driving schools and instructors
This section of the guide will teach how to compare and choose the best company, or individual, to learn to drive with. Within this section of the guide, you’ll find information on;
Once you have a list of driving schools and instructors in your local area, the next step is to compare each of the companies and individuals on your list. Part of what makes it so difficult to find the best driving school in any location is the sheer number of schools and instructors you have to choose from. More often than not, especially in a busy town or city, there could be several driving instructors and schools covering any given postcode. The large number of potential options can make finding the best driving school near you, a difficult task.
What to look for in a driving school
To choose the best company in your local area, you need to know what to look for in a driving school. Here are a few things you should consider when reviewing the companies on your shortlist.
1. Contact details and ownership information
The best driving schools tend to be open and transparent about who owns the company. They also make it clear how you can get in touch with the company should the need arise. When reviewing a driving school’s website or Facebook profile, look for contact information, customer service opening times and an office address.
Good driving schools tend to have clear and easy to find contact details on their website or social profiles. The best companies also allow you to get in touch with them in a variety of ways. These might include email, social media, phone and by text.
If you do manage to find the name and contact details of who owns the company, a quick Google search could reveal some important information about the individual(s). Check the reputation of the owner by searching their name and the name of their company together. Scan the results and look for reviews, forum posts, or articles about the individual or company. A quick search of this nature could give you an insight into how they run their business and treat their customers.
2. Driving Instructor Reviews
It’s really important to make sure that any company or individual you learn to drive with has a positive reputation. Aside from a recommendation from family members and friends, the best way to get an understanding of an instructors reputation is to look for online reviews.
Looking for driving school reviews on independent third-party websites can help you with this. Reviews left by past students provide valuable insight and they can help you make an informed decision about who you learn to drive with. Here are a few things to consider when looking at driving school reviews.
Be aware of fake reviews
Anyone can leave a review on a third party website, so it’s worth bearing in mind that some of the reviews you’ll read will not be genuine. It’s not unheard of for companies to create fake reviews about their products and services, to trick potential customers into believing they have a good reputation.
You can spot fake driving school reviews by looking out for overly positive reviews with little to no detail about the school or instructor. Patterns such as lots of reviews left over a short period of time and looking out for reviews with a similar sentence structure or word count
Although it’s important to bear in mind that reviews can be written by anyone, including the driving school itself, some reviews should be taken very seriously. In-depth, detailed reviews, that contain specific information about fraud, gross unprofessionalism and criminal activity should not be ignored. If you come across a company or individual with several reviews of this nature, avoid the school or instructor at all cost.
Reviews of the school vs the instructor
When reading online reviews, it’s worth noting if the review you’re reading is about the driving school itself, or about a specific instructor. Both are useful but for different reasons.
Reviews of the school tend to be about the company and the overall level of service the individual received. These reviews often contain information about customer service, disputes and commentary on how professional the driving school is. Service reviews are important as you need to make sure the company has a good reputation, however you need to look for reviews of an actual instructor, to make an informed decision about who you learn to drive with.
Reviews about a specific instructor are very useful and we recommend reading as many of them as you can. Through these reviews, you can gain an understanding of the individuals teaching style, personality and professionalism. When analysing driving instructor reviews, pay close attention to unique reviews that highlight the same issue or problem with a particular instructor. In our experience, reviews of this nature tend to be accurate.
How do they respond to reviews
You can tell a lot about a company or individual by how they respond to the reviews they receive. The best driving schools tend to respond to both negative and positive reviews. The top instructors take the time out to acknowledge anyone who has left a positive review, while also providing a timely response to any negative feedback they’ve received.
All companies especially large ones, will at one time or another, receive some negative feedback. The context of feedback is important, as too is the response of the driving school or instructor. Companies that acknowledge the issue, provide a solution to it and make a genuine effort to resolve the problem, tend to be much better than those that don’t. You can find high-quality driving instructors by filtering for one and two-star reviews and then looking for companies that have solved the customer’s issue or offered a genuine solution to it.
Avoid companies that do not respond to negative reviews and those who do not try to settle disputes with unhappy customers. These companies show an obvious disregard for their reputation and as a result, tend to provide a poorer level of service.
Reviews on social media
One tip you can use to find additional information about a particular instructor or driving school, is to find their profile on Facebook and look for any reviews left by past students. If you’re able to find reviews on their Facebook profile, you can send a private message to anyone who has left a review and ask that individual for detailed feedback about the instructor or company.
If you manage to strike up a conversation with any of the instructors ex-students, ask the individual about their first impressions of the instructor, things they enjoyed about learning to drive with them and crucially, things they would change about the experience. No one is perfect and there will always be something that could be changed or improved, but often these points aren’t included in a positive review. Having frank and candid conversations with any of the instructor’s previous customers will help you narrow down shortlist and choose the best person to learn to drive with.
3. National or Local Driving Schools vs Independent Driving Instructors
When thinking about who you learn to drive with, you’ll often end up choosing between a national or local driving school and an independent driving instructor. Each has their pros and cons and it’s important you understand what they are, as it will help you make an informed decision about who you get in contact with. Here are a few things to consider when comparing the available options.
Choice of instructor
National driving schools, distribute customer enquiries evenly across all instructors that cover a specific location. This makes it difficult to request a specific instructor when you get in touch with a national company. If you book driving lessons through a national driving school’s central booking service, the company will assign you a driving instructor and the individual you are matched with, will contact you to arrange a start time.
Generally speaking, you won’t get to choose the instructor you learn to drive with. This makes it hard to find reviews of the individual and research their background beforehand. It can also cause a problem if you are matched with someone you don’t get on with.
Local multi-instructor driving schools tend to distribute customer enquiries in much the same way. If you contact their central booking number, they will often take your details down and pass them on to one of their local instructors. Again you won’t know who you’ll be matched with till the individual gets in touch with you. There is however a slight difference between the two.
Local driving schools are smaller than their national counterparts, which means that relatively speaking, more of their instructors will have reviews online. This allows you to read reviews of the company and build a shortlist of instructors you would be happy to learn to drive with. You can then request to be matched with an instructor on your shortlist. It doesn’t always guarantee that you will be matched with the instructor you want, but it increases the chances of you learning to drive with an instructor you like the look of.
Most independent driving instructors have to market their business themselves and the majority tend to have websites, social profiles and list their details in local business directories. This makes them easier to find and thus easier to research the specific individual you’ll be learning to drive with too.
National and local driving schools tend to operate as franchises and this can cause a problem when disputes arise. Under the franchise model, instructors pay a fee to operate under the business’ name, benefiting from companies brand and centralised marketing activities. Although working under the school’s name, the instructors are actually self-employed and in effect, running their own businesses.
If an issue arises between you and the instructor or you and the company, finding out who is responsible for the problem and who should fix the issue can be a challenge. Often the company will say it is up to you and the instructor to sort things out and depending on the issue, the instructor can just as easily pass the blame onto the driving school. This is a common problem with national and local driving schools and it is something to be aware of before getting in touch.
With an independent driving instructor, the buck stops with them. If there are any issues between the two of you, they are responsible for sorting it out. There are no third parties to hide behind and in theory, this should make it easier to solve any problems that arise.
One of the major advantages of booking driving lessons with a national driving school is their coverage of the local area. National schools generally have instructors in most major towns and cities in the UK. This makes it easier to find a driving instructor near you when you call up a national provider. They also tend to have several instructors in any given location, which increases the chances of booking lessons at a time that suits you. If you are in a rush and need to book lessons within a certain period of time, contacting a national driving school can be the most efficient way of going about things.
Local schools and independent driving instructors tend to be quite busy and it can be harder to book lessons with them, especially during peak periods. This is something to bear in mind if you have a short window in which to complete your training.
If you are looking for cheap driving lessons near you, find an independent driving instructor. Independent instructors generally offer lower prices, as they do not have the same overheads that many national and local driving schools have. They also have the luxury of offering cheap introductory deals that are great for learner drivers who are just starting out.
National driving schools tend to be the most expensive option, with prices ranging anywhere between £25 and £30 per hour
When choosing who to learn to drive with, it is worth enquiring about what additional services are on offer. Some driving schools can help you book your driving test. Others can help you change your driving test. While some instructors have access to a Some driving schools can help you study for your theory test, while others have a range of private online study guides and driving test tips, that are only available to their customers. There is a lot of value in choosing a school or instructor that can help you with any of the above.
It’s also worth finding out before you agree to lessons with them, how the company or instructor tracks student progress. The best driving schools will have an app or website, which should allow their students to log in and manage their driving lessons. The ability to pay for lessons online, change and cancel future appointments and track your overall progress is something most learner drivers find very useful.
Test Centre Coverage
If you’re thinking of choosing a local driving school or an independent driving instructor, it’s worth asking what test centres they cover. Each driving test centre is different and it’s important you pick a test centre that plays to your strengths, as opposed to one that highlights your weaknesses. If for example, you’re not confident on large roundabouts, avoid booking your driving test at a centre that is in close proximity to this type of junction. If you worried about hill starts, avoid test centres located in areas with steep hills.
Once you’ve understood your strengths and weaknesses, pick a test centre that best suits what you’re good at. Once you’ve chosen a centre, make sure that any driving instructor you contact covers that particular site. Top-rated instructors will have extensive knowledge of the local area around any test centre they cover. You can test an instructor’s knowledge of any specific centre, by asking questions about the number of available driving test routes, the hidden dangers along of each and the general style of driving needed to pass in that particular location.
Characteristics of a good driving instructor
A common question asked by many learner drivers is how do I know if my driving instructor is good? Although it can be difficult to tell the difference between a good driving instructor and an average one, the best instructors all share a few common traits.
Teaching people how to drive requires a lot of patience. Mastering a new skill takes time and whoever is attempting to do so, will certainly make mistakes along the way. Learning to drive is no different. The top instructors understand this and they’re patient enough to allow students to learn at their own pace.
Avoid instructors who are known to lose to their patience, shout or show their frustration. If your current instructor is prone to impatience and you feel it’s having a negative impact on your driving, ask the individual to slow things down. Reducing the speed at which things are done, gives both the student and the instructor a chance to calm down during the lesson.
Clarity of instruction
During the early stages of a learner driver’s training, the ideas and concepts introduced during lessons may seem completely foreign. It’s common for students to feel like they’ll never fully understand the things they’re being taught, but generally speaking, this feeling won’t last.
One quality all highly rated driving instructors possess, is the ability to breakdown complex subjects, into easy to understand chunks. It’s a desirable quality in any teacher. Through clear, concise and easy to understand instructions, the best instructors can teach difficult subjects, in a way that even inexperienced learner drivers will understand.
We recommend seeking out and paying a premium for any instructors who have received rave reviews, about their ability to teach in this way.
How to compare driving school prices
If the cost of your driving lessons is a factor in your decision, it’s important to compare driving school prices to ensure you get the best deal. Driving schools will offer attractive introductory deals to get new customers on board, then charge a higher price for the next set of driving lessons you buy. .When comparing the prices of two or more driving schools, it is important to take this into account. To illustrate this point, we’ve created an example below.
Introductory Driving School Prices
|Price Per Hour
|Driving School A
|First 10 Hours £180
|Driving School B
|First 10 Hours £190
In the table above, Driving School A has an introductory offer where the first 10 hours cost £180, this works out at £18 per hour. Driving School B has an introductory offer where the first 10 hours cost £190, this works out at £19 per hour. On the face of it, Driving School A is the cheaper option, however, it is important to look beyond the introductory deal.
Once you’ve completed your introductory deal, you will no longer be able to book driving lessons at that price. Your next set of lessons will be changed at the driving school’s standard price and you will continue paying this rate, for as long as you remain with the company. This is why it is important to work out how the standard price will affect your budget as you continue your tuition.
Standard Driving School Prices
|Price Per Hour
|Driving School A
|10 Hours £240
|Driving School B
|10 Hours £220
In the example above, Driving School A has a standard price of 10 hours for £240. This works out at £24 per hour. Driving School B has a standard price of 10 hours for £220. This works out at £22 per hour
The DVSA advise at least 40 hours of driving with a qualified driving instructor before taking your driving test. In all honesty, we feel this is a conservative estimate, but for the sake of this example, let’s use the figure to work out the total cost of learning to drive with each company.
Driving School A
Introductory offer – 10 hrs x £18 = £180
Standard price – 30 hrs x £24 = £720
Total cost of 40 hours tuition – £180 + £720 = £900
Driving School B
Introductory offer – 10 hrs x £19 = £190
Standard price – 30 hrs x £22 = £660
Total cost of 40 hours tuition – £180 + £720 = £850
As you can see, although Driving School A has a cheaper introductory offer, their standard price was higher than that of Driving School B, leading to a higher overall cost. If you were to learn to drive with Driving School B instead of A, you would save £50.at the end of 40 hours tuition.
In reality however, this will not always be the case. If we use the same prices as we did in the example above and extend the total amount of tuition to 50 or 60 hours, the student would end up saving £70 and £90 respectively, if they wert with Driving School B vs A