The role of the modern ADI Tutor/Coach

There has been much debate in the ADI industry about coaching, in terms of what it is, and what it is not. The DVSA have moved away from their initial coaching experiments and towards a client-centred approach. This is because during those initial experiments they had put it in the hands of people who had received only a cursory amount of training and experience, which obviously led to quite a few safety-critical incidents. They therefore decided that the client-centred approach, which allows for much more instruction, was the way to go to keep things safe. This is now the model that they see as the ideal.

The change by the DVSA has been used by the industry to develop the “Coaching is a tool in the toolbox” approach favoured by many. This is making instruction the default position and missing the whole ethos behind the coaching method. Coaching is about unlocking the potential of an individual to help them see things in different ways and to self-develop through experience and reflection. Thinking of coaching as simply a tool in the instructional toolbox limits its power and potential to develop people. However, if instead we think of coaching itself as the toolbox and instruction as a tool within it, our default position will always be to coach where possible. This is the ideal if we wish to truly develop the individual to be able to maximise their potential.

There are many barriers to the perfect coaching session – within the coach, the trainee, and the safety-critical scenarios we often find ourselves in. To see these barriers or safety-critical issues as reasons to not coach means that we develop a model where instead of seeking to develop our coaching skills to overcome these issues, we simply see them as insurmountable issues and beyond our control. This position limits both us and our coachees and instead they should be seen as developmental points for our own growth as an industry and as individual coaches.

Our true role as a coach is to develop the individual and to unlock their full potential. A modern trainer should be skilled in all areas of this development and should be qualified, certified, and regularly assessed. As role models and those at the pinnacle of the industry it should be expected that the Tutor/Coach will take their own self-development seriously and should be undertaking a programme of continuous personal and professional development.

The modern Tutor/Coach should be more aligned with the training and education world outside of our industry. We should learn from best practice in these worlds and develop new ideas about what we do and how we do it. The methodologies used in our industry are at best archaic and at worst harmful to the development of the individual.

The driving instructor industry is the last bastion of teaching by telling people what to do. This needs to be addressed and the role of a modern Tutor/Coach does not need to be developed, it needs to be reinvented.


Some fab Teaching quotes 

Carl Rogers – When someone really hears you without passing judgement on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mould you, it feels good. When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions which seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.

Socrates – I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.

Benjamin Franklin – Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Carl Rogers – Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life.

William Arthur Ward – Teaching is more than imparting knowledge; it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts; it is acquiring understanding.

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – The secret in education lies in respecting the pupil.

Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner – Once you have learned to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn, and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.

Albert Einstein – I do not teach my pupils; I simply create the environment where learning can take place.


Tutor/Coaches are the people who take the raw materials provided (the coachee) and guide them along the path to becoming a qualified and successful ADI utilising the knowledge and skills they already possess, to get the learning out, rather than try to put it in. Your coachees know much more than you might imagine. Your job is to manage that learner journey, help the coachees overcome obstacles they may encounter along the way and to aid the coachee to break down any barriers to learning that may be present. The role of the Tutor/Coach also involves handling day-to-day issues and offering support and guidance as best you can so as not to let it interfere with the coachees progress.

It is important that we, as Tutor/Coaches should lead by example. Therefore, we need to be professional in appearance and have systems to track our coachees and manage their journey. We must use appropriate paperwork, communicate effectively, appropriately and in a timely manner, and deliver the training in a fulfilling way.

It is your own coaching business you are developing and running; it is therefore important that you realise everything you say, and everything you do reflects on that business. Referral and recommendation work is the lifeblood of such a business, so your success very much depends on how you are viewed by potential customers/coachees. So, pay attention to the detail, be the best you can be and always lead by example.

It is also vitally important that you show the coachee the benefits of utilising the logbooks you may provide as part of the course for self-development, reflection, and review. You are a role model in this regard and as such your knowledge of and use of these systems needs to be exemplary.

Help the coachee to be the best they can be by having them take an active role (or as much of an active role as they are comfortable with)

Your role is to help the coachee become the best version of themselves it is possible to be as an ADI by providing nurturing support and guidance to the coachee.

You must develop the coaching skills to facilitate this development. To do this, firstly you need to be able to create the right environment for learning to take place. This involves you building rapport, creating a non-judgemental environment, and having an unconditional positive regard for the coachee. You should operate with the sure knowledge that the coachee most likely already has all the knowledge and skills they need to be able to undertake the task ahead. This goes against the perceived norm in the ADI industry. The “how we learn” presentation you have access to as part of your course gives detail of how this works and highlights how clever human beings are. We need to harness this and help our coachees become the best version of themselves.

A lot of us were trained in and qualified under the PST-based world and this can really stand in the way of developing the skills required of a modern Tutor/Coach (i.e., a facilitator rather than “the font of all knowledge”). We tend as human beings to utilise the methods that were used on us as an unconscious bias, be wary of this!

Our aim is to get the knowledge out of the coachee, not attempt to put it in. The ADI industry is full of individuals who do not believe that this method can work and see it as incredible that people believe this can be possible. We are the last bastion of “telling people what to do and how to do it”. The rest of the educational and training world has left us behind. The DVSA realise this and have moved away from the old Part Three test and to a much more modern methodology. Here is a quote from the DVSA about the new Part Three test.

The DVSA state: “The ADI Part Three test will change to become a much more realistic assessment of a PDI’s (potential driving instructor’s) ability to help a learner to learn in a safe environment and in ways that match their needs and ability levels. Note it says help to learn and not “teach”

Since the change to the qualifying exam in late 2017 the PDI will give a driving lesson to a real pupil while an examiner assesses their ability to tailor the training to that pupil’s learning goals and needs. The examiner will:

  1. look for evidence that the trainee instructor meets the national standard for driver and rider training
  2. mark 17 areas of competence in 3 categories – lesson planning, risk management and teaching and learning skills”


Many in the industry have ignored this, and to a certain extent got away with teaching in the same style as before. The DVSA stated “just do what you have always done” and they gave licence to those who did not wish to adopt more modern teaching methods to carry on telling people what to do.

There has, in recent months been a significant shift from the DVSA towards requiring more client centred lessons, as witnessed by feedback (written and verbal) from examiners from all around the UK. In fact, they now state at the beginning of Part 3 Exams and Standards Checks, “I must remind you, that we are looking for a client centred session”.