We took the opportunity to raise some of your issues, concerns and questions with NASP. You can listen to Chris Bensted reading through the Question and Answers on the bonus episode of The Instructor Podcast (Complete with extra details and discussion). Or read them below.
Who are NASP?
You can visit the NASP website for more information, however, NASP is made up of 3 national associations:
- ADINJC – Approved Driving Instructor National Joint Council
- DIA – Driving Instructor Association
- MSA – Motor Schools Association GB
They are ‘Tier 1’ associations that have Collaboration status with the DVSA. They are therefore an important contact point for the industry. NASP do not have members themselves, but you can join the individual associations. Visit their websites for details – Mention The DITC if you are joining. (DITC Association section coming soon)
The current chair is Peter Harvey (MSA), a position that rotates between him, Lynne Barrie (ADINJC) and Carly Brookfield (DIA). The communication follows:
Q. The voice on the frontline is that while DVSA are promising increased capacity, examiner numbers in test centres are at an all-time low. We appreciate (or possibly don’t) the epic challenges being faced by the DVSA as this time, but would like to be assured that there is a strategy being employed.
A. As you know DVSA have just had a massive recruitment campaign, they received over 5,000 applications to the initial campaign and are continuing with the process, DVSA have advised us that this process of recruiting should produce around 300 additional examiners. One of the main issues in the strategy for DVSA at the moment, even although they are offering overtime to existing examiners, they still have examiner sickness and statutory holidays to deal with.
Q. The general consensus from ADIs seems to be that, despite communication, we do not understand. It comes across that while daily capacity is being increased, the new system is halving the ability to future book tests. Can NASP or DVSA explain not only the dates but how this reduction in length of availability is going to reduce waiting lists?
A: DVSA reported that waiting times for theory tests in England had now come down to an average 3.1 weeks, and in Wales 1.1 week and Scotland 16 weeks. DVSA said that this had been flagged with Transport Scotland and capacity would be added as soon as they were able, however as social distancing remains at 2 metres in Scotland, the situation is very difficult. The changes to the new booking system being introduce in July should make it much easier to forecast demand and consequently make life much easier for instructors and their candidates alike.
Q. ADIs have been clearly told that they are part of the solution (or problem) in making sure that only ‘test ready’ candidates are coming to the test centre. Sadly many pupils and parents are seeing the 6 month wait and taking the ‘just give it a go’ approach. Pressure is on instructors to comply and their reputations are being threatened. If they don’t take the pupil and the pupil passes in their own car or similar it is being used as proof that the instructor didn’t know what they were talking about. Does NASP and/or DVSA have guidance on this? Should ADIs be informing the local test centre if they feel a pupil is a risk and still coming for test (in their own car or with a last minute instructor)?
A: DVSA are aware of this issue and intend to do a customer insight survey with ADIs to help them assess customer demands, however we would still encourage instructors to stand firm and just don’t take people for test that shouldn’t be there and let the examiner deal with whatever the general public decide to do. Some will of course slip through the net as has been the case forever, once the DVSA get back to seven tests a day across the country and the waiting lists start subside to reasonable levels, im sure things will get better.
Q. What is the official channel for an ADI trying to resolve an issue? Do we use PADI or Customer Services? ADIs are feeling very isolated in this regard. Could NASP/DVSA provide an infographic of which channels are available and when they can be used? This should include local and national associations, LDTMs and local test centres.
These are not just issues with the DVSA, they are also about concerns with other instructors, I have sent a separate email regarding such a case. We want the ability to help achieve maximum standards in our industry.
A: The DVSA have not provided an updated list of TCMs or Regional officers as they are displayed in each local test centre (if they are open) however:
For concerns regarding ADI/PDI matters, PADI@dvsa.gov.uk is best, or 0300 200 1122 between 8am and 4pm, when the voicemail comes on, dial in 25 to be connected to someone who can deal with instructor issues (not for general public)
For more general enquires, like changing tests etc, firstname.lastname@example.org
If it’s a complaint about a driving school/instructor email@example.com
If an instructor would like a copy of their crystal report emailed to them firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. We are hearing increasing stories of let down customers that have paid money to intensive providers and then let down as they cannot find any instructors to deliver this training, often last minute. Is this an opportunity for DVSA and/or NASP to address this model and its professionalism inside the industry. Intensives are not necessarily a bad thing, but undeliverable promises damage all ADIs leaving others to clear up the mess.
A: This is not an issue we have been made aware of, however we will take it up with DVSA to see if they have had any complaints.
Q. On top of the already immense pressure, some ADIs are awaiting Standards Check or ORDIT Inspections. Can they receive clarity on when these are likely to recommence? and what notice period they are likely to receive when they get one? Many want to work with a trainer to achieve an optimum result, but worried they will be unable to schedule this.
A: DVSA had stated that standards checks wont take priority in the early stages of starting back after the most recent lockdown, to allow as many examiners as possible to be free to cover L tests wherever possible. The agreed notice has usually been at least four weeks with the new style engagement call from the enforcement officer about a week before the standards check to discuss, the setting on the day. We understand DVSA will be writing to every instructor in the near future to confirm how and when these tests will restart.
Q. There are increasing complaints about companies mass-booking tests, some of whom are then ’touting’ these at 3x the face value. Could the DVSA comment on this practice and what, if anything, they are doing about it? Due to the lack of test availability ADIs are having to rely on cancellation checkers, which are a double edged sword at best, so this is far from a simple situation.
Additionally, ADIs are frustrated at not understanding how companies mass book tests? Is this possible without using pupils’ details, if not what can be done to prevent this?
A: NASP complained about the use of third party booking sites that appeared to be able to find and book test before instructors and the general public, as this is putting an unnecessary strain on instructors and causing many candidates to accept a test with no consultation with their instructor and consequently attempting the test in their own car with very little professional training and urge DVSA to implement measures to stop this happening.
DVSA are aware of this and discussions were ongoing with DVSA’s firewall supplier to introduce new rules to challenge these sites and stated that there is a gradual reduction in the level of searches people can make without impacting normal bookings. Companies are constantly finding ways round any blocks we implement to get tests. DVSA also pointed out that some instructors may be misusing and if that was found to be true, the Registrar could take some action. NASP requested that DVSA issue communications to explain the situation to instructors.
It is not possible to mass book tests unless you have the details including driver numbers of the candidates, which they give freely to these agencies, when they pay them for the service of finding them a test.
Regarding the above, we would like to know:
The number of ‘no shows’ – Addressing this could help reduce the abuse of the system.
A: we have asked for this information and will circulate when available.
The number of ‘private runners’ presenting to test – This is two fold, if failing they may be a symptom of those refused by or unable to employ an ADI. However, we are encouraging test ready candidates to use their own car to allow greater flexibility. What we would like to see is the ability to ‘claim’ these supported tests and share in their successes.
A: The instructor would just need to put their certificate in the window when the candidate goes out in their own car, assuming they are with them, however this could also be twofold, if the candidate fails to pass.
Q. Smaller providers are being penalised with Zero allocations while others still have the ability to book 5-6 tests per week. The bigger companies allocations are still at the previous level despite not presenting test candidates for 18 months. This does not provide an even playing field for independent instructors, who are often the ones trying to grow or better themselves. What can be done? What complaint procedure can be put in place for those ADIs as they are usually met with ‘computer says no’?
A: NASP raised a complaint around the allocation of B+E tests and asked if it was an individual issue or more general, it appeared that smaller trainers had a perception that they are being overlooked in favour of the large companies for tests. DVSA replied, that allocations get spread amongst trainers and that currently demand is very high with B+E competing with other vocational tests, and as the tests increase it should help ease the situation and that the trainer booking system sends requests to DVSA. If there is a complain the best place to start email@example.com
NASP were happy for us to be sharing this information and will also being sharing this through their own channels. The best ways to engage with NASP are https://n-a-s-p.co.uk/ and use the contact us button.
Posted by Chris Bensted
June 1, 2021