Driving school secrets

Driving schools secrets that some schools would rather you didn’t know about are listed on this page.

I’ve worked at two big driving schools myself and trained hundreds of instructors from different driving schools.

Also read my pages on driving instructor training secrets and driving school scams.

Here we go then with some of the biggest driving school secrets.

Instructors paying you if they cancel a lesson

Did you know that if your driving instructor cancels a lesson then they could have to pay you the full cost of the lesson? Let me explain.

Many driving schools state in their contracts that if you cancel a driving lesson with less than 48 hours notice you’ll have to pay for the lesson. The problem is that many driving schools have written contracts which are legally useless.

For a contract to be legal it must be fair for both sides. They can’t just say that if you cancel you owe them for a lesson without saying what would happen if they cancel. If you have to pay for cancelling then so do they.

If you are having driving lessons and have ever paid for a cancelled lesson then carefully read through the contract you signed. When it doesn’t state what they would do in the event of a cancellation then it’s probably not legal and you shouldn’t have to pay anything.

How I avoid this

I’ve never used contracts. There’s nothing to sign and it’s all done with common sense. If a pupil cancels I’ll just fit someone else in. If it’s at short notice I’ll say they can pay if they feel they should or if not then don’t worry and I’ll have some time off. Easy come, easy go.

Driving schools will take on ANY instructor

This is one of the biggest driving school secrets.

There’s a myth that big driving schools have the best instructors. They must have to pass hard interviews and have an excellent track record to work there right? Wrong.

Driving instructors pay a weekly fee to a driving school to hire one of their cars and/or be supplied with work. The more instructors a school has, the more money they make so they’ll take on anyone – even people that aren’t fully qualified!

I emailed a big driving school that boasts about having the best cars and the best instructors. I said that I was a struggling new instructor who had been teaching for 6 months but had already had two serious crashes and nobody had passed a driving test with me yet.

They offered to have a car with me by the end of the week.

There are no interviews and no standards: so long as you pay you’re in.

How I avoid this

It’s just me working here. I do help other people become instructors and do a lot of instructor training to raise the standard of teaching but I don’t take on anyone else to work here.

Driving school contracts for under 18’s

If you’ve signed a contract for a driving school and you’re under the age of 18 then the contract means nothing.

You have to be over 18 for it to be legal. Many pupils don’t know this and have paid for cancelling lessons and other things detailed in the contract. There’s no way the school could legally make them pay.

What should happen is that they ask your parents or guardian to sign on your behalf. They then become responsible.

How I avoid this

I don’t use contracts.

How driving schools make money

Driving schools make money from their instructors paying a weekly fee to be supplied with work. They don’t make any money from learners paying for lessons.

Driving instructors at some schools are tied into a lengthy contract so they can’t leave even if they have no work.

I was in the office of a driving school once when an instructor was complaining he hadn’t had any work for weeks. The manager took his car keys and refused to give them back until he paid his fee. The instructor had to phone his wife and get her to pay it on a credit card over the phone.

The same manager made fun of a disabled man that was booking lessons. He was saying how he’d need dozens of hours and there was good money to be made there from whoever taught him.

Some driving schools don’t care about learners, instructors, safe driving, road safety or you passing your test. It’s all about the money.

How I avoid this

I earn my money directly from driving lessons. I concentrate on teaching to the best of my ability and not collecting dozens of instructors just to make money.

Why driving schools don’t care about pupils

Driving schools make money from instructors so why should they care about learners?

When I was working at a driving school I got talking to a girl that worked in the office. She told me how they were trained to always take the instructors side whenever they had a complaint. The reason was that they didn’t want to risk ever losing a paying instructor but losing pupils didn’t matter.

You might think that all driving schools would care about their pupils but it’s their instructors they’re more interested in.

How I avoid this

I care about everyone I teach. Every pupil is a pupil to me and not a reference number or statistic.

Some schools won’t pay to have tyres properly fitted

This is one of those driving school secrets that not many know.

Tyres are the only part of a car that have contact with the ground and must be fitted properly for safe driving. You have to get the tyres balanced to make sure they’re fitted properly.

Balancing is when you make sure that weight around a tyre is distributed evenly and that the tyre rotates evenly. In simple terms, it’s making sure it’s fitted properly and not just shoved on to the car any old how.

I had a flat tyre when I was working at a big driving school. When I went to a garage and they fitted a cheap, bottom of the range budget tyre it and asked if I’d like to have it balanced.

I replied that of course I did or it wouldn’t be fitted properly. “You’ll have to pay for that yourself then (name of school) won’t pay for balancing, just the tyre itself”.

I was shocked that this driving school had hundreds of cars across the country without having replacement tyres fitted properly! At the time the balancing cost about £5 extra to have done but this school, which was making millions a year in profit, would rather save £5 per tyre than get it done properly.

How I avoid this

I have tyre insurance which covers me for anything: flat tyres, potholes, damaged or worn. I can have brand new tyres fitted for free with balancing included, no questions asked. They’re not cheap tyres either but premium brands like Michelin, Continental or Bridgestone.

Demanding the pupil leaves the car

Did you know that at any time on a driving lesson (or test) your instructor can tell you to leave the car? Legally you have to and if not they can call the police and have you removed.

I’ve heard of two times this happened.

A pupil refused to pay for the lesson after they’ve got into the car. The instructor told them to leave and they wouldn’t so they had to call the police who told the pupil over the phone that they had to leave the vehicle now or they’d come and remove them.

A pupil of mine once told me about a time a similar thing happened to her at another driving school. After driving over a pothole her instructor directed her to drive to the top of a hill in the countryside (see it here) and pulled the car over. He then got out, pulled the pupil out the car, threw her bag out, called her a stupid bitch and drove off without her!

I’ve looked on this schools website and they boast about how they have the best cars and best instructors yet strangely they don’t mention that.

How I avoid this

I don’t throw pupils out of the car.

Driving instructor groups, clubs etc.

You’ll often see driving schools saying that they are members of certain organisations or clubs. They’ll display badges on their websites and you think they must be great to have been accepted into these places.

All you have to do to join these organisations is pay.

Being a member of any organisation means nothing. So what if you’ve paid an annual membership fee and have badge in your car and on your site? It just means you’ve paid. Nothing else.

I’m not saying these places don’t do great work and some of them are very good. I’m just saying being a member of them doesn’t make you any better than someone that isn’t.

How I avoid this

I’ve never joined any driving instructor organisation. I’d rather just give good lessons than collect badges to put on my car.

Those are just some of many driving school secrets.

Not all driving schools are bad but I always recommend choosing a driving instructor and not a driving school.

Try my pages on funny driving lesson stories and driving school scams.