How to choose a driving school
This is the single most important decision you’ll make when learning to drive. It’s crucial you get it right! Here are some steps for choosing a cheap driving school that works for you.
What to look for
- Fast matching: You shouldn’t have to wait a week to get allocated an instructor. You can get matched instantly on our real-time booking service.
- Local instructors: Good driving schools will have instructors that – service your area. Many cover large areas while some prefer to stay local and have more limited coverage. The important thing is to find one that covers your area specifically and that you click with.
- Easy instructor swap: Everyone is different, and there’s no guarantee an instructor’s teaching style will match your learning style. You need to know your driving school will let you swap instructors. Midrive lets you swap instructors at any time, at no cost.
- Fast customer service: The last thing you want to do is be given the runaround by your driving school. Great schools are ready to answer your questions and resolve issues when they arise not days later.
- Unused lesson refund: Driving schools love to sell learners big, expensive packages. What they don’t like doing is refunding the remaining hours of a package when the learner passes earlier than they expected.
When you’re researching driving schools, it’s important to find out what type of instructors they use. There are two types of instructors:
Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs): These are fully qualified driving instructors who have well-rounded skill sets and a wealth of experience. They have been taught and graded by instructor trainers and should be able to quote the result of their most recent grading. This will be A (high standard of instruction), B (sufficient level of instruction), or a fail (unsatisfactory level of instruction).
Potential Driving Instructors (PDIs): These are instructors in the final part of their training, yet to take the final exam. They will have the latest training techniques and are approved to teach by the DVSA having passed several exams and had many hours training. They will usually be a cheaper option to reflect their lack of experience, so may be a good option for some.
Obviously, you want the highest quality instructor you can find. The question is: how do you know if a driving school has good instructors? One way to determine this is to look at the average number of instructors a learner is taught by before they pass.
This is significant in a few ways. Firstly, learning with a single instructor is more efficient, as the ‘getting to know each other’ time is reduced. Secondly, instructors are usually discarded because they’re unreliable, uncommunicative, or uncommitted to their students’ learning outcomes.
None of those are desirable, so it pays to find out what kind of ‘instructor turnover’ learners go through at a prospective school of motoring. This could be from information you find in reviews, get from recommendations, or ask of the school directly.
At Midrive, we only use the best instructors rated by learners like you. Our average is 1.3 instructors per learner, which means the vast majority of our learners stay with their first instructor until they pass their test. You deserve to do it as well!
Don’t believe the hype around pass rates! They’re easily manipulated, hard to verify, and based on unreliable data. Let’s talk a little about what we mean by ‘unreliable data’.
Imagine this, there are three learners at a fictional 123 Driving School: Learner A does 40 hours of lessons before their test and passes first time. Learner B does 20 hours of lessons, fails, then does 20 more and passes the second time. Learner C does 10 hours of lessons before each test and passes on the fourth time.
All of these passes and failures have equal weighting on a school’s pass rate. Yet, the school had no control over when the learners took their test. In fact, the data shows that the school was pretty consistent in terms of its teaching quality: it took all three learners 40 hours of lessons to pass.
123 Driving School would have a pass rate of 43%, which isn’t great. But its pass time of 40 hours is actually below the UK average (47 hours). This shows that the standard of instruction is, in fact, quite good. It also shows that pass rates don’t mean as much as we think!
Types of driving schools
- Automatic driving schools: Whilst there aren’t any schools of motoring that exclusively offer automatic driving lessons, some driving schools are better equipped to be ‘automatic driving schools’ than others. Generally, the larger the school, the more likely it is it’ll have automatic instructors with availability that suits your schedule.
- Intensive driving schools: Most driving schools offer both regular and intensive driving courses. The difference is simply the length of time between lessons. Some schools of motoring might prefer offering intensive courses and thus refer to itself as an ‘intensive driving school’. Remember, this is often a business decision, not an educational one.
- Crash course driving schools: These are often just intensive driving schools with another name. And although the term ‘crash course driving school’ doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, some people might prefer to get their learning done within a short timeframe. Again, most schools and instructors will offer crash courses if you ask.
- Advanced driving schools: There are various types of advanced driving schools. These might be driving schools that offer pass plus courses, or courses that deal with specific scenarios. They could also be courses for people interested in driving professionally, or learning techniques used by racing and stunt drivers!
- Not just car driving schools: They might be the most common, but car driving schools are not the only type out there. Motorcycle driving schools cover riding skills. Van driving schools offer courses for delivery and other professional drivers. And truck driving schools specialise in the use of industrial and intercity transport vehicles.
Comparing driving school prices
There are a lot of things in life where choosing the cheapest is simply the best option. Paper plates, water rates, mobile plans for your nan, none of these things require any more investment than the bare minimum. Driving schools though, they’re a different story entirely.
Some schools of motoring will offer unbelievable introductory prices. The prospect of cut-price driving lessons may seem compelling, but there’s always a catch. Usually the hours in introductory offers have to be used at certain times of the day or week. These may not fit your schedule.
Remember when you compare driving school prices that you get what you pay for. Going cheap sounds great, but you’ll learn much slower with a less experienced instructor. This means you’ll have to take more lessons, and maybe even fail the practical test. How much is all that going to cost you?
Our advice when you compare driving school prices is to simply find the best school you can and not worry about the price. Okay, if they’re charging £40 an hour that’s a bit extreme, but you really can, and should, put a price on quality when you’re talking about learning to drive.
How do I find the best driving school near me?
There’s no single best way to find a driving school near you, but rather a combination of factors that might land you the perfect school of motoring!
- Friends’ recommendations: If your friend or relative has had a great experience learning to drive with a particular school in your area, then that is definitely a good place to start. If they passed first time after the experience, that’s even better!
- Reviews and forums: Checking review sites like Trustpilot and local forums is a good way to get a wider selection of people’s opinions about local driving schools. Try looking on social media sites like Facebook for reviews and ratings as well.
- DVSA approved instructor directory: If you’re still looking for a local driving school after all that, you should try the DVSA Approved Instructor Directory. There are bound to be some lessons going in your area!