This article will explain the differences between a trainee and an Approved Driving Instructor (or ADI). If you’re planning to start taking driving lessons it’s important to understand these differences and what impact they might have.

If you’re taking lessons already, we’ll show you how to tell whether your current instructor is fully qualified or a trainee.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have recently changed how driving instructors qualify to become Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs). Until a trainee passes their final exam, they are known as Potential Driving Instructors (PDIs) although they are often referred to as trainee instructors.

What is a Trainee Driving Instructor?

A trainee must complete three tests that are set by the DVSA before they become a qualified driving instructor. If you are being taught by a trainee driving instructor, this means they have completed two of these three tests and are actively working their way towards taking their final test.

A potential instructor will have also had to apply for a trainee driving instructor licence. The DVSA sets very stringent criteria for obtaining the trainee licence. The licence will be revoked it if the PDI doesn’t undertake sufficient training or if they fail final test three times.

What is an ADI Driving Instructor?

Registered driving instructors are formally referred to as Approved Driving Instructors or ADIs for short. ADIs are required to register themselves with the DVSA. They can also voluntarily register themselves with the online ADI driving instructor list maintained by the DVSA.

How to Tell the Difference Between a PDI and ADI

All driving instructors must have a licence in order to be able to charge for driving lessons. By law, they must also display either their PDI licence or ADI certificate on the windscreen of their tuition vehicle.

A trainee driving instructor licence can be recognised as a pink badge, whereas an ADI certificate is green. If your instructor is charging you for lessons but doesn’t have a badge they are breaking the law.

Changes to Driving Instructor Testing

Trainee instructors must take three tests as part of their training. These tests are administered by the DVSA. The final test (Part 3) is called the Instructional Ability Test. It can only be taken once the other two tests have been passed successfully.

We have had to change how we deliver training to potential driving instructors as a result of the recent changes to the Part 3 test. The knock-on effect from these changes is that we’ve also had to modify how we deliver tuition to driving pupils as well.

The Changes We Are Making

In the past we only used fully qualified driving instructors to deliver driving lessons. Trainee instructors didn’t need to practice delivering lessons with learners. This is because they were tested by senior examiners who would play the role of a learner driver instead.

From now on, a trainee’s instructional ability will be tested by them giving a driving lesson to a real pupil. This means we have to make changes not only to how we teach trainee instructors, but also to how we provide driving tuition to pupils.

The ‘mistakes’ that senior examiners made during the old Part 3 test were becoming predictable. However, it takes a great deal more training to prepare a driving instructor to respond appropriately to genuine mistakes made by real pupils.

So now, allowing PDIs to teach real pupils with real learning objectives is the best way to prepare them for their Part 3 exam. Alongside the new challenges, the new test gives a student instructor an opportunity to plan a real lesson with a pupil they have had chance to build up a rapport with first.

In conjunction with our new approach we believe the DVSA changes will ensure higher standards of driving tuition. Better driving tuition means better drivers, which means safer roads for all of us.

What Safeguards Are In Place?

For some, the idea of being trained by someone who is a trainee themselves sounds like a bad idea. We understand this concern. This is why we have strict safeguards to make sure our learners are only taught by instructors who are up to the task, whether they are fully qualified or not.

At How-2-Drive, a PDI will only be allowed to teach after a minimum of 40 hours in car training. The PDI will then have to do another 20 hours additional hours of teaching with their instructor. They will only be allowed to teach unsupervised once their trainer is satisfied with the standard of their teaching.

After 6 months of teaching learners, the PDI must take and pass their final exam. If they don’t, their PDI licence will expire and they won’t be allowed to teach any longer. If a trainee fails their final test three times, their PDI badge will be taken away.

What Are the Benefits for Learner Drivers?

It’s clear that potential driving instructors benefit from on-the-job-training before taking their final test. But we also think that pupils stand to gain from these changes too. Here are some good reasons to consider taking lessons with a PDI:

  • You’ll get the benefit of planning a lesson with your PDI instructor in preparation for taking the Part 3 test with them. Understanding more about how instructors are assessed will help you prepare for your driving test.
  • You’ll be helping us to train better driving instructors. This will in turn raise the standards of driving tuition and driving in the UK.

When you book driving lessons with us, we will notify you if your local instructor holds a trainee licence. We will also give you the option to learn with ADI instead, if one is available in your area.

Ultimately, what matters most is that you take lessons with a quality driving school. Our pupils pass their practical driving tests in 17 hours less than the DVSA national average. This means that people who learn with How-2-Drive save money by taking fewer lessons. Top-drawer driving tuition from our qualified or fully supported trainee instructors will help you pass your test sooner and set you up for a lifetime of safe driving.

Meet our team of Driving Instructors and learn all about what drives us.