A packed agenda was tabled reflecting the number of issues, developments and initiatives currently occurring in the driver and rider training industry. Below is a summary of the key agenda items discussed and items to be actioned moving forward.
In the initial NASP only session in the morning the group discussed how we could increase collaboration and work in a more joined up way on key initiatives, as well as how the group should work with DVSA moving forward. It was suggested that NASP agree some core items and initiatives to work collaboratively on and that a longer meeting would be scheduled to define those core objectives and decide how best to achieve them. Amongst the issues and initiatives it was suggested NASP should focus on working together were:
- Developing ideas for a more robust pre-testing regime – possibly including mandatory learning period and curriculum
- Examining the threat of autonomous vehicles to the industry
- Examining what possible professional development and training should the sector be considered
- How to develop better awareness and recognition of professional driver training amongst the public
- Discussing and Defining suitable criteria and metric for an earned recognition scheme for high performing ADIs, alongside working with DVSA to develop how any perceived underperformance could be tackled
It was agreed that NASP would not just work to highlight problems, but would also work proactively to find solutions. It was also agreed that meetings with DVSA should be not only about the regulator cascading information down to NASP (for the group to disseminate to its respective memberships), but to be a stronger forum for dialogue and debate on the key issues facing the industry. There was also discussion as to how to better raise more awareness of NASP.
The group then worked through the agenda for the meeting with DVSA to align the approach to each item and be better able to present a combined NASP view.
Joint meeting with DVSA
NASP were joined by Registrar Mark Magee, Head of Testing Services Phil Lloyd, Driver & Driver Training Service Manager Neil Wilson and Jacqui Turland, Deputy Registrar from DVSA for the second session of the day. The meeting opened with feedback from NASP that the group wanted to work more proactively with the agency to use these meetings to have a more productive dialogue with the agency, highlighting issues and discussing possible solutions, rather than the joint meetings just being an update from the DVSA and more of a broadcast of messages the agency wanted to send out to the industry via NASP. DVSA agreed that this would be a more useful approach.
Mark Magee updated the group on headline developments from DVSA including the arrival of new CEO Gareth Llewellyn. It was reiterated that the new Chief was very much in listening mode currently, meeting with staff and services users around the country to get their views on how the agency could improve its services and delivery. It was understood that until this period of evaluation was completed there would no large scale announcements of any big change or new developments. It was noted that the agency wanted to work with a wide range of stakeholders to be able to get a wider industry view and suggested that occasionally it may be productive to hold wider meetings with NASP and others such as the national driving schools. CEO Gareth Llewellyn is intending on attending the next joint meeting in June.
The meeting then worked through the following key agenda items:
NASP queried the Timing Exercise being conducted by DVSA. It was confirmed the exercise was being carried out on practical tests by DVSA and some third party consultants from Scott Grant. 1500 car tests are being monitored, with every element precisely timed, including paperwork before and after tests and engineers will be sitting in on tests across the UK. A formal interim report is anticipated in May. DVSA were asked whether candidates have the right to refuse, for example if they have already had a test with an accompanying supervising examiner. Mark Magee said that permission should be sought from the candidate on any occasion that other person/s, in addition to the Examiner, were required to sit in on tests and confirmed that the agency would give reasonable consideration to not monitoring certain tests if candidates expressed valid concerns. Feedback was made by NASP that it would have been useful for DVSA to communicate the study was taking place beforehand and it was requested that DVSA provide a communication highlighting the benefits of the study and the process (including appraising candidates of their right to highlight where they were uncomfortable having their test monitored) which NASP could circulate. NASP have also asked DVSA to feedback to them on their concern that, in monitoring the test end to end, a third party would be party to the end of test debrief.
Action: DVSA to provide a note on the study to be circulated by NASP and feedback on issue of confidentiality
In car cameras
DVSA stated that they would be producing a guidance note for ADIs on the use of in-car cameras and filming lessons in general, helping trainers stay compliant with data protection regulation. It was highlighted that there have been problems with some ADIs filming tests and placing clips on social media which had generated complaints from Examiners and candidates. The Registrar is being proactive in contacting those ADIs directly and highlighting these actions are not compliant with Fit and Proper conduct for an ADI.
Action: DVSA to circulate guidance on the use of in-car cameras
Examiner Standards and Conduct
Concerns were expressed by NASP over some aspects of Examiner behavior, including conversations held in front of candidates which were inappropriate. It was agreed that this was unacceptable conduct. Mark Magee said that any such concerns or complaints should be brought to the attention of DVSA via Local Driving Test Managers and AOMs and also be communicated via the Correspondence Team at DVSA so that evidence is captured and recorded of such issues, allowing for better monitoring.
Action: NASP to advise members on correct channels of complaint, DVSA to highlight the issue to Examiners
There had been a flurry of both verbal and physical assaults on DVSA staff over the past few months from both the public and ADIs. DVSA are implementing a zero tolerance approach with written warnings to offenders, and support from the profession would be appreciated. Examiners were being encouraged to go the police in the case of severe abuse which would be leverage for removal from the register. It was also worth highlighting to ADIs that online abuse via any media is also reportable and prosecutable. NASP will inform members that the group supports a zero tolerance approach.
Action: NASP members to communicate a zero tolerance approach to their respective memberships and via the NASP website
Driving Test Services
Concern was expressed by NASP over test waiting times and why no improvement was yet being seen on the ground, despite promises to increase Examiner resources. DVSA updated the group on measures to tackle key issues which include ramping up the recruitment campaign, expediting the training process, increasing capacity for training and examining the initial sifting process to ensure more appropriate applicants were allowed through. The agency is seeking a 100% increase in Examiners over 2016/17 to deal with the increased demand in tests, forecast to hit 1.8 million this year. NASP asked for a full update to be prepared for circulation to the industry with an estimate of when ADIs could expect to see improvements on the ground. NASP also feedback the huge level of concern and frustration that ADIs on the ground have at the waiting times and the challenge that they now have in keeping pupils engaged in learning and motivated to remain test ready in the long wait for their test slots.
Action: DVSA to prepare an update to be circulated
Theory Test Contract
NASP expressed their view that it was unfortunate to have to learn about the situation with regard to the Theory Test contract remaining with Pearson from Sky News and not DVSA directly. Concerns were expressed about the mishandling of the contract to date and reassurances sought that this would not happen again. Mark Magee confirmed Pearson would operate the contract for the foreseeable future.
Practical Test Trial
An update was given on the test trial. Over 4,300 tests have been conducted with good feedback from ADIs, Examiners and pupils alike. DVSA acknowledged that the feedback that the new test made pupils ‘less decisive and less confident’ has been confusing and reiterated that the positive benefit this was intended to communicate was that pupils were less inclined to make snap decisions and be overconfident in their ability, making them less risky and better able to make the right decisions. NASP feedback that there was still concern over the pulling up on the right exercise, however DVSA reiterated that those involved in the trial felt it was important to examine a riskier manoeuvre that drivers do make regularly in real life driving. A full report would be compiled soon and consultation would follow to look at implementing a new test.
Updates were given on the recent Motor Services and Mobile Phone consultations. Feedback had been taken on board and reports will be published by DVSA shortly.
The Registrar noted there are still a considerable number of ‘failures to attend’ on Standards Checks. It was highlighted how any FTAs also impacted test services generally as Examiner time was wasted at a time that Examiner time is indeed scarce. Help was requested by DVSA in communicating this to ADIs. NASP also noted that there were also occasions on which checks were cancelled with little notice by Examiners themselves which was equally unhelpful to the ADI customer and impacted on their time equally.
Questionnaires have been sent out to ORDIT trainers for feedback on the proposed replacement of the Part 3 with a Standards Check. Out of 160 companies 73 responses had been received so far. 66% had said they were aware of the proposed changes. 70% said they had already made changes to their training to reflect the requirements of the new assessment . An impact assessment would be carried out with a view to possible introduction in April 2017.
Concern was expressed by NASP as to the impact of the proposed changes on single trainer/sole traders and the opportunity for more unscrupulous trainers to exploit the system and help clients pass on a bare minimum of training (for example by using an FLH pupil fully prepped for the Check). It was suggested a log book could be used to record the training process which would help weed this out and ratify appropriate training had taken place.
Delays on Tribunal decisions
NASP raised a concern that tribunal decisions were taking up to 10 weeks in some instances and the Registrar agreed it was important to conclude these processes more quickly to ensure ADIs who were in clear breach of regulation were removed from being able to teach more quickly.
Defining, regulating and promoting professional driver training
NASP raised the concern that DVSA continues to accredit courses where many of the individuals involved delivering training or assessment are not Approved Driving Instructors, nor hold a professional driver training qualification of any kind. DVSA was asked to consider what more could be done to ensure standards were raised by regulating this kind of activity more firmly and communicating to the public what professional driver training really meant.
Issues were raised concerning the credit system for booking LGV tests being unproductive for many trainers and the lack of availability of slots for training businesses. It was pointed out that at time there is a shortfall of 40,000 plus LGV drivers, placing unnecessary hurdles in the way of candidates acquiring a licence was unhelpful. The agency promised this would be fed back and stated that they continued to consult with stakeholders in the industry to develop training and testing.
A query was raised regarding the LGV voluntary register and the requirement for requalification every renewal period. It was suggested this should now be brought into line with other areas of professional driver training with a Standards Check system for reregistration. The registrar agreed to look into the possibility.
Any other business
- Discussions on the Road Safety Statement and Strategy (and possible NASP inputs), Earned Recognition, aspects of mandating CPD for ADIs were added to the agenda for fuller discussion at the next meeting in June
- Concern was expressed about the standards of some driver trainers coming from other EU countries, with some being able to teach in the UK for up to seven months before a Standards Check. The Registrar commented that trainers where there was a concern should be recalled for a Standards Check more quickly.
The date for the next joint meeting has been scheduled for late June and NASP will communicate separately beforehand to agree approaches and strategy for the future.
Present at the meetings for NASP:
Carly Brookfield (Chair) DIA
Sandra MacDonald Ames DIA
Gavin Brownlie DISC
Gordon Crosbie DISC
Peter Harvey MSA GB
John Lepine MSA GB
Lynne Barrie ADINJC
Chris Porter ADINJC
In attendance throughout: Sue Duncan, Minute Secretary