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Instructor training and franchise information

So, you’re thinking about becoming a driving instructor? There's never been a better or busier time to come into the driving school industry! We were already busy pre Covid, but since Covid there has been a massive backlog of people of all ages wanting, and more importantly needing to learn to drive. As a result, demand is far outstripping supply, and most instructors are fully booked and have long waiting lists.

To legally provide paid for driving instruction you must be qualified as an ADI - An Approved Driving Instructor, or a PDI – Potential Driving Instructor (often referred to as a trainee instructor).

Here you will find all the information you need to be able to make an informed decision as to whether training to become an ADI is right for you, and everything you need to know about how to choose a training provider, and ultimately achieve the qualification to a new career. Our training structure and costs are simple, open, and transparent, with no hidden terms and conditions. We are a local family-based company rather than a large national company, and our business has thrived through our reputation as a quality driver and instructor training provider, providing a very personal service. Therefore, it is in our interest to recruit the right people for the job, look after them, and ensure they receive the best possible training in order to deliver the best quality to our customers.

Becoming an approved driving instructor

So, you’re thinking about training to becoming an ADI? Here you should find all the information you need to be able to make an informed decision as to whether training to become an ADI is right for you, and everything you need to know about how to achieve the qualification and new career.

Here we provides a brief overview, and a few questions you should be asking yourself if you are considering taking the plunge into a new career as a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor.


When you started looking into become a driving instructor, you probably had a rough idea of what an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) does. Maybe since doing more research you now have a clearer idea. It is important that you fully understand the roll of an ADI, as well as what the process of qualification involves before starting any training. Maybe you are feeling apprehensive about the process. We are not going to lie to you and tell you it’s an easy process. However, if you approach the training in the correct way then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful, and many of our trainees have passed all three stages on the first attempt, and you’ll see that in our training testimonials (LINK). It should be an interesting and enjoyable experience, and we are here to support you throughout. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, then please do contact us. Please do be weary of cheap training deals and “fast track” ADI training courses. Unfortunately, the national ADI pass rate is unnecessarily low, and sadly that is often down to the standard or type of training provided, as well as trainees not fully understanding the process before paying for courses and starting to train.

According to the website, an ADI is someone who:

  • Has a high regard for all aspects of road safety
  • Has a high standard of driving and instructional ability
  • Has a professional approach to customers
  • Has a responsible attitude towards pupils and the profession
  • Be a ‘fit and proper’ person

All of these are true, but in addition, amongst many other attributes you’ll also need to ask yourself whether you are:

  • A good driver
    Understanding of basic vehicle mechanics
  • Patient
    Knowledgeable of the highway code
  • Time efficient
  • Versatile
  • Flexible
  • Trustworthy
    Reasonably IT literate
  • Understanding
    Able to communicate
  • Organised
    Knowledgeable of teaching techniques
  • Open minded
  • Sympathetic

Manage pupils' learning

ADI's need to manage their pupils’ learning, as well as their own business. ADI's need to use a blended mix of teaching and coaching, according to the needs of their learner. The ADI should adapt to the most effective methods to facilitate their learners learning. You as an ADI should be a teacher, motivator, counsellor, assessor, interviewer, friend and on occasions even a psychologist. Important though these attributes are, effective teaching and learning is of paramount importance. To manage the learners progress all good teachers should follow certain key competencies. 

A good structure for ADI's to follow is the systematic training cycle:

Competence 1:

Determine the needs of your learner drive, plan and prepare the training.

Competence 2:

Delivery of the training, and in terms of driving tuition, focusing on safety

Competence 3:

Evaluate and assess the effectiveness of the training

Although there are three parts to the ADI qualification process, there is going to be significant overlap between the three stages. In Part 1 you will learn much of the theory, from mechanical knowledge and road procedures, through to the teaching, and much in between. You will then apply much of that knowledge into your driving ability for Part 2, and then use that knowledge and skill in your teaching for Part 3. Beyond the Part 3, you will also want to be running a successful business, so we will guide and help you to develop your business understanding and skills too.

In preparation for this training course you will need to dedicate time to studying and researching. There is a wealth of information out there, especially on the internet, but we advise to keep it simple to start with, and don’t overload yourself with too much information too soon.

The ADI qualification process

To become an Approved Driving Instructor you must satisfy the requirements set out in the National standard for driver and rider training, and pass each of the three Driving Standards Agency qualification tests that you must pass in order to become an Approved Driving Instructor, otherwise know as an ADI. These tests are known as the ADI Part 1 - advanced theory test, ADI Part 2 - test of driving ability to a high standard, and ADI Part 3 - the test of instructional ability. Here we explain each test in more detail. 

More detail

To qualify as an ADI you must go through three stages of tests. You can take the Part 1 test

as many times as needed to pass, although it will cost you £99 (as at April 2024) a time, so it’s not worth taking it unless you are fully prepared. The Part 2 and Part 3 tests are limited to three attempts each, and you must pass all three tests within two years of passing Part 1. If you fail Part 2 or Part 3 three times you will have to wait for the two-year anniversary of passing Part 1, and start the process again. If you do not pass Part 3 within those 2 years you will also have to start the process again.

Part 1

There are two sections to the Part 1 test, a multiple-choice section, and hazard perception. To achieve a pass both sections must be passed together.

The theory is an advanced theory test, different to the learner theory test. You will have 90 minutes to answer 100 multiple choice question, with 25 questions on each of these four key subject categories:

  • road procedure
  • traffic signs and signals, car control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge
  • driving test, disabilities, and the law
  • publications and instructional techniques

To achieve a pass mark in the multiple-choice section you must score 85% overall, but also score at least 20% in each of the four categories.

Once you have completed the multiple-choice section you will move straight onto the hazard perception, with up to a 3-minute break if you want it.

For the hazard perception you will watch 14 short video clips. Each clip will contain at least 1 developing hazard, and one clip will have 2 developing hazards. Meaning that you will see a total of 15 developing hazards. Each hazard is worth a maximum of 5 points, and the sooner you click to acknowledge that you’ve spotted the hazard to more you score.  Therefore, you have a maximum achievable score of 75, and you must score 57 to pass. This is the same test that learners sit with their theory test, however they only need to score 44 to pass.

Part 2

This is the test of your driving ability, and the format of the test is very similar to that of a normal driving test, although to a much higher standard, where you will be expected to demonstrate expert handling of the car and road procedure, with a few key differences to a learner test:

  • The Part 2 will last for around an hour, whereas the learner driving test is only 40 minutes 
  • At Part 2 you are only allowed to commit no more than 6 driver faults, whereas the learner test allows for 15! You are not permitted to commit and serious or dangerous faults.
  • You will be asked to read a vehicle number plate at 26.5 metres, whereas the learner test is 20 meters.
  • You will be asked 5 safety “show me, tell me” questions, whereas a learner is only asked 2 questions.

        Similarly, to the learner test, you will be asked to perform two reversing exercises, possibly an emergency stop, and around 20 minutes of independent driving either following road signs or a sat nav.

        The route chosen by the examiner will incorporate as many varying road types as possible including rural and urban roads, if possible dual carriageways and motorways if the location allows.

        Part 3

        This is the final part of the ADI qualification process, as tests your ability as an instructor, based upon the guidelines set out in the National Standards for driver and rider training. A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency examiner will watch you give a client-centred driving lesson lasting about 45 minutes to one of your pupils, and the examiner will look for evidence that you meet the national standard for driver and rider training. There are 17 areas of competence that they are looking for, and these are broken down into 3 key categories:

        • Lesson planning
        • Risk management
        • Teaching and learning strategies

        The examiner will score you on the 17 areas of competence listed within the ADI part 3 test report form at the end of the test.

        You’ll get a score from 0 to 3 for each of the 17 competencies, which are added up to work out if you’ve passed the test, and what your grade will be.

        • Score 0-30 is a Fail
        • Score 31-42 is a Grade B Pass
        • Score 43-51 is a Grade A Pass

        You will automatically fail if you score less than 7 out of a possible 15 in the Risk Management section, or the examiner feels the need to stop the test because you have put you or someone else in danger.

        Training to become an ADI with ELITE

        It's important before committing to any training course that you fully understand what the training involves, including exactly what type and amount of training you will receive, how long training will take, who will be delivering your training, and what financial and time commitments you are going to have to make in order to complete the course. Find out about ELITE and our trainers, our flexible training options, and everything we offer here.

        Our training options

        Our training options are fair, transparent, and designed to help committed people into our industry, and build our business as a reputable and quality driving school.  We are a family run business, that has steadily grown since 2008 to now having a team of over 20 great ADIs, all of whom have been trained by us. ELITE’s instructor trainer is the company founder and director Ian Sedgwick. He has been an ORDIT (Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers) registered trainer for over 20 years. ORDIT means that he has undergone further training, testing, and accreditation by the DVSA (Driver and vehicle Standards Agency) to ensure we are providing the highest standards of training to PDIs (Potential Driving Instructors). As a result, you will receive personalised training and advice throughout the qualification process. We provide free on-line training resources for Part 1 theory, plus unlimited trainer support for anything you are unsure about. All Part 2 and Part 3 training is in-car training, and is carried out on a one-to-one basis, unless trainees specify they want to 'buddy up' and share sessions by observing one another's training. Our trainers often also teach learner drivers and invite our trainees to sit in on and observe them teaching.

        With ELITE you can train at your own pace around your current commitments, whether it be one or two training sessions a week, or more intensively. The length of time it takes to qualify will very much depend on how much training you can fit around your other commitments, how much time you can dedicate to studying outside of your training sessions, and waiting times for DVSA tests. We have had trainees qualify within 6 months of starting training. However, you need to be aware that there will be a lot of information to absorb, and you need to allow time for research, revision and practice between each training session for all 3 parts. You may find that training too intensively overloads you and you become saturated with information, and therefore training becomes counterproductive. To become a successful, knowledgeable, confident and professional driving instructor will happen over time, so bear this in mind if you are looking at other possible training providers offering fast-track, crash or intensive training courses.


        Choose the trainer that is right for you! This is a very personable process. When training with ELITE you will be looked after by our dedicated trainer and company director. Often we have trainees come to us that have already undertaken training elsewhere, and have had no consistency with their training. This could be because their trainers are not local. or their trainers don’t actually work for the company they signed up with, and are freelanced trainers working for a third party provider. So they’ve not always had the same trainer, or there doesn’t seem to have been dedication of the trainer in the interest of the PDI or the business.

        Choose the trainer that is right for you!

        Choose the trainer that is right for you! This is a very personable process. When training with ELITE you will be looked after by our dedicated trainer and company director. Often we have trainees come to us that have already undertaken training elsewhere, and have had no consistency with their training. This could be because their trainers are not local. or their trainers don’t actually work for the company they signed up with, and are freelanced trainers working for a third party provider. So they’ve not always had the same trainer, or there doesn’t seem to have been dedication of the trainer in the interest of the PDI or the business.

        ELITE ADI training cost options

        Here we explain exactly what our driving instructor's training course includes, the costs, what additional costs you may encounter, and explain why it’s probably best for you not to pay for a full course up front.

        Our ADI training is provided purely on a Pay-as-you-train basis.

        We believe that paying as you train is the fairest and most financially secure method of training. We have so many trainees that come to us that have signed into contracts and paid up-front for full training courses, and then ended up coming to us and having to pay again. This could be due to a number of reasons, including:

        • Contractually being given an unreasonable limited time to complete the training
        • Not being able to book training due to trainer unavailability
        • Not clicking and being able to establish a good working relationship with their trainer
        • Feeling that the training was not delivered to a satisfactory standard
        • The trainers style of training was not adapted to the trainees style of learning

        There is also the possibility that due to your own personal circumstances you are unable to complete the training. This could be because:

        • Your personal or family commitments change
        • You develop a medical condition
        • You are offered an alternative job
        • You decide that this career move isn’t right for you
        • You fail Part 2 three times

        It is unlikely that you will be refunded any unused training if you have paid for a full course in advance.

        Trainee licence option

        Here we explain what the PDI (Potential Driving Instructor) trainee licence is, what the benefits of it are, and what the conditions are if you decide to apply for one. It is important to remember that although you can start your career on a trainee licence, and start teaching real life learners for 6 months, and start to earn a living whilst doing so, that the main reason for taking a trainee licence is to gain experience whilst continuing with ongoing training to develop your skills.

        Becoming fully qualified

        We feel that one of the main reasons the national pass rate for the Part 3 test has been so low over the years is because many trainee instructors use the trainee (Pink) licence as a means to earn a living from teaching, and don't seek ongoing training and support to build them towards the Part 3 and becoming fully qualified. This is often the fault of the school or ADI they are working for, as they are not given the support and guidance. Many schools and training establishments have a high turnover of PDIs, and PDIs are their main revenue source from franchise fees. As a result, trainees often think they are doing well, as have good pass rates with their learners, and get lots of personal recommendations. However, they develop bad teaching habits and lose sight of the best practices and skills learnt through their own training. Most commonly PDIs telling learners what they need to do to pass their test, rather than teaching them to become independent drivers. Ultimately these PDIs are putting them at jeopardy when it comes to the final Part 3 test. We ensure that our PDIs have ongoing training and support throughout so they are fully prepared for the Part 3 test. This is usually a combination of further one-to-one training, plus observation and feedback training. This is where your trainer will sit in the back of you giving real life lessons to one of your pupils, followed up by reflective and remedial sessions. The format of your training from start to finish will be tailored to your training needs and learning style.