Harry…

Congratulations to Harry, from Port Sunlight. Harry passed on his first attempt with us with just a handful of driver faults. More than that though, he’s hitting the road with the confidence that comes from having a real understanding, and mastery of the techniques and structures of driving. He had previously been with a different instructor with a well known local school, but he took to my way of teaching very quickly.

Better to be straight with people, yes?

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I’ve been doing a bit of research. Here’s what I’ve found…

Some driving schools don’t publish their prices anywhere. You have to actually contact them, which gives them the opportunity to do the hard sell.

Some driving schools offer prices “per lesson” rather than “per hour”. If you’re paying £25 per 50 minute lesson, that’s actually £30 per hour. Most local schools in this area have this clearly stated on their websites, but not all of them are up front about it. 50 minute lessons allow instructors to cram more lessons in per day.
I’d rather have a bit more time between lessons, so that I can keep my concentration levels high, and provide as professional a service as possible.

Some of the deals offered are less straightforward than they seem. You get X lessons for £whatever, but some of those lessons have to be taken at the end of your training. If you decide not to carry on with that school, you lose some of the lessons you thought you’d paid for.

Smaller schools tend to be cheaper than the national and large local schools. That’s to be expected. Driving Instructors pay a lot of money each week to these schools, and so they have to charge top dollar to recoup their outgoings.

I tried to make a list of prices and what have you, and on some sites, it wasn’t easy to get the information I was looking for. I did find that we’re among the cheapest.

Our lessons cost £25 per full hour. If you pay for ten hours up front, you get an 11th hour free. You get your first 2 hour lesson for £25.

That’s it. Keep it simple. No hidden extras.

Two out of two this week :)

Well done to Jo, from Wallasey.

Jo drove an assured and confident drive along roads she wasn’t all that familiar with this morning to get a comfortable pass. I sat in on this one, and I felt things were going well. I couldn’t identify anything she did that would have merited a serious fault. So it proved.

Sam conquers the nerves!

Congratulations to Sam from Wallasey, who couldn’t believe it when the examiner told her she’d passed!

Sam got off to a bit of a shaky start, running over the kerb as she turned left out of the test centre, and went around the rest of her test convinced that she’d already failed. The examiiner though, took account of the fact that she was nervous, that it had happened right at the start, and that the rest of her driving was of a high standard. In a strange way, that early mishap allowed her to relax and get on with doing what she clearly knew how to do.

Never give up!

Thinking of doing it in your own car?

I don’t have a picture of Archie clutching his test pass certificate. I wasn’t there.

I taught him to drive, but after getting the basics, Archie started supplementing his lessons with me with private practice in his parents’ car. In the end, he was driving that car a lot more than he was driving mine.

I got a text from him, asking if I was available for a particular date, and I had to say no, because it conflicted with another driving test. Thing is though, Archie was well up to standard. He didn’t need me any more. I texted back advising him to book the test, and to do it in his own car. This he did, and in due course, I got another text from him letting me know he’d passed, with only two driving faults.

So here’s what you need if you plan to do your test in your own car:

  • L Plates! Stick on or full magnetic are best, as the type with narrow magnetic strips on the side are prone to being blown off, and there have been times when tests have had to be abandoned. Test centres usually have sets of L plates, so if you present yourself for a test, and you’ve forgotten to bring them, the examiner may be able to supply some for you. This is not something you should rely on though.
  • An interior mirror on the passenger side. These can be picked up, usually for about £5-6 from places like Halfords. Again, the examiner will often be able to bring a mirror if you turn up without one, but this is really a last resort. Arrive prepared. You’ll be more confident.
  • Valid insurance. You must be insured to drive your car on a driving test. Check the small print in your policy, and if it excludes use for a test, you will need to get an inclusion added to your policy.
  • A roadworthy vehicle. Make sure your tyres aren’t bald, that there is fluid in your screenwash bottle, that all your lights, seatbelts, etc all function properly, and that your car is taxed and MOT’d. The examiner will make visual checks at the beginning of the test, before you start your drive, and if your vehicle isn’t up to scratch, your test will not go ahead, and you will lose your test fee. The car you use mst also be fitted with head restraints, and must be able to accommodate at least two passengers in the rear seats.
  • Until you’ve passed, you are not allowed to drive unaccompanied. You must have someone with you when you drive to the test centre. That person must be at least 21 years old, and must have held a full UK driving license for at least three years.

You should aim to arrive at the test centre about 8-10 minutes before the test is due to start. Much earlier, and you will be getting in the way of people coming back from previous tests. Much later, and you will be pushing against the clock, and going into your test feeling unprepared and flustered.

Paying with something other than money…

This website was built and is hosted by the husband of one of my ex-pupils. He gave me his time, and I gave his wife lessons to something like an equivalent value. It was a straightforward arrangement that didn’t need the intermediary of money.

So if you, dear wannabe driver, have something that I might want or need, perhaps a similar arrangement can be made.

Congratulations to Ian!

The The happy chap above is Ian Richardson. He passed his test in rush hour traffic in Wallasey this morning.

“A capable and confident drive” is how the examiner put it as he handed Ian his pass certificate.

Ian will be straight in at the deep end, as he is being driven to Watford to pick up a car, before driving himself home. That time we spent on the M53 might just come in handy!

Helen does the business!

Helen Richards has proven to be a real asset to Paul Sharp School of Motoring. She’s brilliant with nervous pupils, and is getting results on test day. Over the last week or so, she’s had two first time passes. If you want to contact her directly, her number is 07964 387279.

Beth and Rupika…