My Dad takes his glasses off to hear me better…..

Dad glasses off to listen

“I’ve done it again!…. I’ve taken my glasses off to hear you better!”

My Dad was shocked when I answered “I’m not surprised by that at all!” He could not see the logic in that statement. For me, I know my Dad; a Graphic Designer by trade, and an avid amateur artist in his retirement! It is clear as day!

We all have natural preferences, and many of us use a primary sense to interpret the world around us. My sister on the other hand, although having additional learning needs, was pitch perfect! She would ‘object strongly’ (and very loudly!) to a piece of music she knew if it were played in the wrong key, or at the wrong speed. (This was of course back in the day of vinyl records). My sister would make up songs for everything… for example, she had specific names and an order to take her numerous medications in the morning. No song – or the medicines sung in the wrong order and all hell would break loose! All I remember is that the ghastly most bitter tasting medicine was called “Miss Potsit!!” She favoured an auditory way to make sense of her world…. and luckily the family tuned into that perfectly.

I am ambidextrous ! So guess how I ‘get a feel for the world’ or ‘make’ sense of it! As a strongly kinaesthetic person with a large dash of my Dad, I “see” and “do” my way around the world.

What do the people during your working day prefer? How do you adapt for them?

I have a strong understanding of how I can ‘tap into things’, make the ‘picture brighter’, and ‘sound something out’.

Have a good week!


First Contact…

A message I received this week… so nice to feel acknowledged. Also great to know that so many parents have realistic concerns for their children post test!

“Hi Fiona. How’s things? Could we possibly have a chat on the phone, please? *** has had a couple of lessons with a local driving instructor and I’m already getting the impression that the sole purpose of the lesson is to get her to pass her test, which, isn’t, imho, what it’s all about. I love your alternative ethos and would really like *** to learn in a more holistic way. I realise there is quite a distance to travel but I’d be quite prepared to bring her over to Colchester if need be if it equips her better for her miles on the road ahead. What do you reckon?”
DR – 05/06/15
(via facebook and my website)

First lesson already done! 🙂

Break (neck) or Brake



So today was another one of those, “well this is an unusual session….. but it feels ‘right’!!” kind of notions…

The scene:

  • Very bright Student at Uni
  • Few lessons in
  • Knows that she is finding it harder than other people might… at the moment…
  • … knows that will change once she is comfortable with the car controls
  • In her own words she ‘over-thinks’ everything – creating information overload
  • Very independent person
  • Cannot ingest too many instructions on the move – simple words only – mostly due to this wonderful independence

Her Session Goal:

  • Learn to break ‘properly’ in her words – meaning
  • At specific places (so I can practice and feel ok approaching junctions)
  • So that it is smooth when I stop
  • “So that I don’t break your neck when I stop!”
  • So that it is not sudden!
  • So that I feel safe and in control

[after a bit of discussion…]


Her Session plan:

  • Country route chosen by Student – as she feels safer as less to distract her from the plan
  • Fiona ‘in charge of observations and ultimate safety’
  • Fiona to give clear instructions as to ‘place to stop’ whilst on move/stationary (we found out that Student choice was overwhelming last session and was not successful!)
  • Student in charge of moving off, moving up through the gears, and stopping at the appointed stop location


Her session Observations:

  • Braking to a stop at the desired place was mastered
  • Use of brake had improved since last session (no neck brace required!! hahahaa! 🙂 )
  • Quite accurate
  • Proud that she was independent
  • Very happy that changing to 3rd – re-mastered after a missing the target
  • VERY happy to note that she began to introduce her own mirror observations naturally!
  • Very happy to be independent for all of her ‘role’
  • Happy to note that she understood the junctions that she ‘saw’ and knew priority
  • Felt her goal accomplished
  • Noticed improvements when dealing with other road users
  • Felt like is was a great session


What she will work on:

  • Moving off “when someone is behind her under control
  • Concentrating on her own car and what she needs to do (avoiding focus on others eg behind)
  • Driving under control when others nearby
  • Using her ‘over-thinking brain’ to her advantage when spotting hazards

Sounds like a plan to me!


I often think about what I would have done in the past. I would probably encourage/force/urge someone to just ‘keep going’. I would not have acknowledged her judgement of what felt safer (ie country roads or town junctions). I would not consider that this lesson plan as being of a sufficient standard of complexity or attainment! It would have to have been much more complex otherwise I would not feel like I was ‘giving value for money’!

If I am offering a service that is ‘value for money’…. those ‘values’ can only be set by the customer.

When I go to a restaurant I may prefer my steak…

  • well done
  • medium well done
  • medium rare
  • rare
  • raw
  • still alive

… in all honesty – I would STILL NEVER eat in this restaurant as it does not respect my values… It is not hearing what I want even with the multitude of options available…. I want Quorn! I’m a vegetarian !! 🙂


Standards Check Training

My Standards Check Training

My Coaching skills and the Qualifications I have gained since 2011 have proved to be extremely useful in an unexpected and very pleasurable way. I have gained a new string to my bow because of the skills I have and now I offer new Standards Check Training to people (ADIs) who really do benefit from the support I can give.

I had not specifically intended to diversify along this route… indeed when I completed my Btec Level 4 and qualified as an aCCeLerate Trainer soon after, no one knew that the Old Check Test would evolve into the New Standards Check that we ADIs need to pass today. Of course; one can legitimately be a Traditional Instructor and still attain a high Grade in the Standards Check, but the DVSA are trying to encourage us to develop our educational techniques in order to help our new drivers to become safer more reflective drivers. My new skills became more popular as Driving Instructors found new incentives to develop along Coaching and Client Centred (CCL) guidelines.

Because of my aCCeLerate Course deliveries, my skills became known and sought after. My reputation grew. ADIs sought me out and requested Standards Check Training and remedial Training after being unsuccessful at their Standards Checks. It has been a real pleasure to do this work – and particularly rewarding in many cases, where wonderful bonds have been formed.

I like to think of Traditional Instruction VS Coaching on a spectrum. The two extremes being pure versions of ways to educate – neither of these purest and extreme forms are suitable for Driver Education and would be dangerous, I believe. Coaching in a dangerous developing situation on the move will not work! Pure Instruction is not motivating nor engaging and is too specific!

On one side of the spectrum you have pure Instruction and over the other side Pure Coaching.

coaching spectrum

There are as many variations on the spectrum as there are Driving Instructors out there… where are you?

We must all chose our place and include as much or as little as we see fit.

I believe that the best ADIs will move about on the spectrum constantly, according the the needs and requirements of the client at the wheel; and this will change minute by minute and session by session and a new driver develops.

Please read my Testimonials for some more specific feedback form individual Driving Instructors if you wish.



Standards Check Training Event for ADIs

Event Pic Carol and me

Standards Check & CCL Training Day

for Driving Instructors (ADIs)

Run By
Carol Morley &
Fiona Taylor

The day runs from 9.00am to 4.00pm and focuses on coaching and client-centred learning techniques.
There is a particular emphasis on the new Standards Check and how adopting coaching techniques will help you deliver your driver training with confidence.

Whether you have been an ADI for over 20 years, or are more recently qualified; even if you have been delivering coaching and client-centred learning for a long time – there will still be plenty to gain from this day’s training.

The day looks at:

•encouraging the customer to set the goals for the session

•structuring the lesson so that the responsibility for the learning process remains with the customer

•managing the risk whilst still enabling the customer to learn for themselves

•adapting the way you teach to suit the way someone learns most effectively

•breaking down the barriers to learning

•creating an atmosphere and environment that is built on mutual trust and respect

Finally, you will leave the course with a Personal Development Plan (PDP) that identifies your personal goals and lets you know how to go out and work on these so that when you come to take your Standards Check you will be able to do so with confidence.

What other ADIs have said about the day

“Just did my Standards Check and got an A, 48/51.
I’d recommend the CCL and Standards Check course
to anyone who is worried about it.
Really gave clarity to what was needed. Thank you.”
Joy Bennett

“This is just a very short note to say thank you for the lovely training day we had today.
When I left i was buzzing and still am.
You have given me plenty of thoughts to improve my ccl
so no doubt it will be a late night as I try to get my pdp going.
The SC form will get a good drilling tonight.
Again thanks for a great day.”

For more information or to book please click on the link below

Dealing with road rage whilst Learning

The following question was asked on an ADI forum today:

“It is sometimes really difficult for ADIs dealing with aggressive and irritated drivers. If this was to happen on your SC how could you use it to your advantage and help the learner benefit from what is always a horrible experience ?”

And it got me thinking – this was my answer in brief:

Fiona Taylor it seems there are many versions and precipitating factors. The issues that I try to address with my Students are about “who the other driver is?” “How are they today?” “What circumstances could they be in to make them act like that?” “What set of circumstances might trigger you to behave or react like that?” “How does it affect you?” “What steps can you take to prevent you lashing out verbally or physically?” —

This will not prevent situations…. but sometimes to think about issues BEFORE they happen can help alleviate a crisis! —-

Good examples of this principle would be fire drills; where everybody knows what to do in the event of an emergency! —-

OR better still the ‘steering into a skid’ information that I was luckily given before I needed it. Going over that simple piece of information well in advance, prevented me from going out of control! I reacted instinctively due to prior knowledge, and had a ‘near miss’ that I can happily reflect on.”

[Kolb’s Theory of Learning]



I believe that having these types of conversations whilst Learning to drive a car, triggers trains of thought that age and mature over time. These reflections enhance driver skills, and decision making. Although not seeming as important as basic car control, I believe these skills to be even more so. Making well informed decisions is the key to safer driving for all our futures.


Test Nerves – How can I help?

Below is a brief description about my own Driving Test fiasco when I was 17!

This is copied from a Facebook forum I wrote in earlier today. It got me thinking about nerves and what can be done about them…


“I was stupendously nervous! Knees kept giving way walking towards the car so I looked like a berk even before I got in – so you can imagine what my clutch ‘control’ was like [or NOT] !

I eventually got out of test centre – noticed examiner ‘shaking his head from side to side’….. panicked even MORE! Oh My god he is so ANGRY at me!!! THEN I noticed he was even tutting at me – rhythmically!

By now I have been over kerbs and maybe even the odd human – who knows!! Get back to Test Centre with no dents to the car -just my self esteem!

The lovely Driving Examiner kindly explains that I have been unsuccessful on this occasion ……… hahahahahahahahahaha! Duhhh!

As he walks off…… and it is only in that moment I realise that he had slight Parkinson’s disease and that caused him to permanently shake his head (a tremor) AND he had also finished sucking his sweet!!!! – so not even tutting as I assumed he had been because I was “so bad”!! It just goes to show what ‘intense emotional states’ do to Students attending tests 🙂 “


So after this experience that I remember so vividly, you would think that I could recall my test pass 11 days later with the same clarity? No! Not at all! I remember nothing of the pass – just him saying I had and the elation that followed!



I think we are all pre-set to remember our mistakes (probably an evolutionary safety mechanism) and not to recall our triumphs so readily. A sad fact that it is useful for me to rectify during driving lessons. It is part of my lesson structure to ask Students to list what went well and not only to ‘re-live’ their errors! Even the small point of re-framing a question to a ‘future possible solution’ makes a massive difference! For example, even a simple version of “What could you do differently next time you are in that situation?” offers a positive and changeable solution that Student respond really well to – rather than “what did you do wrong there then?”!!


The thing I noticed most about my first test was that I was out of control! I had no idea how I could manage my nerves. As an ADI I have noticed that this is yet one more occasion where no two people are the same – so what works to calm and appease one Student will not often work for another; that people may have faith in a technique – even if considered to be a placebo, it will still work.


Since Coaching I have found that the only ones who really know what ‘could’ work is the Student themselves…. and another key factor is their conviction of my faith in them!


I, like most, ADIs have an extensive armoury of ways to combat nerves. The Student helps us find a solution. Often random things like a Mind-map will clarify things and highlight an action plan! Sometimes the mind-map itself has been the answer!


The other massive benefit that the Students gain from the Coaching process is that they constantly analyse and reflect upon their driving. They are confident in their ability to adapt one situation to fit another, and to readily plan and adapt it when necessary. This has been the process throughout their lessons. I enjoy watching ‘decisions’ being made when something happens out of context during their test – rather than stagnating and making odd decisions because ‘it isn’t meant to happen that way’. This also seems to have a direct effect upon dealing with nerves in the run up to test. There can be much discussion if nerves are considered to be a personal issue.


Research suggests that self evaluation techniques developed during the learning process significantly helps new drivers to stay safer. I can see a difference in my past students compared to my current ones – this of course, is my own opinion.



Of course some Students still suffer as I did with nerves…. but most ADIs seem to have the same reaction when their Standards Check letter arrives in the post!

Have a good day, all!


Fiona Taylor

Theory through practical

Theory practicalSo – with K last week – and she seems to be completely demoralised with her theory studies. Her dyslexia and educational history seemed to be daunting and overwhelming her into lethargy and reluctance to ‘get it done’!!

We chatted and discussed the issue, and it turns out she has never thought about the fact that when we “re locate” that theory into a practical road situations SHE ALWAYS knows what to do! She knows what the signs are if they are in context in front of her! She is wonderfully practical so common sense theory content is ‘obvious’ to her (eg first aid and safety)!

I asked her to take a look at the fact the theory is written on computers, yes, BUT where does it come from? It comes from the road, and the signs and the practical things that she can see and touch. The things that she does and sees and hears! The theory is just the world around her on ‘paper’!

That seemed to clinch it! She got it! If she makes it real – make it ‘in front of her’ and hands on – and all the answers spring to life! Books?? – Schmooks!! She can do this!

I ‘challenged’ her (in a caring and supportive sense of the word of course 🙂 ) to have a go at the ‘Hazard Perception’ aspect of the Theory. I told her I would put money on her ability to ‘ace’ the hazard perception clips! To prove my point, I quoted as many examples as I could remember from her last hour of driving of all the occasions that she predicted real and potential hazards on the road ahead AND the road behind because she is naturally conscious of the dangers all around her! I then started to quote a few examples from the previous week and eventually with a big grin on her face she ‘persuaded’ me to stop!
I also pointed out that she often speaks up when noticing other road users ‘doing it wrong’ and happily explaines to me what the correct action would have been! Hahaha!

As I predicted, K told me today that she aces the hazard perception clips! She also opted to spend some time on some theory practice today with me in the car. At times I helped ‘bring the theory questions to life’ by using my little cars and road layout diagrams. Result ? – correctly answered questions. We also ‘brought the theory questions to life’ by using specific local signs and areas that she knows well, also creating an environment that suited her skills.

Result? Theory practice mock test = PASS!! K took a photo of the ipad screen as proof of her achievement!

Well done K! Guess who is booking her theory test soon!

What if I just left her alone to get it done? I know she would still achieve a pass! That is a fact! She is determined and bright! – but would she see her theory through her dyslexia and those hindrances, or her theory with her skills and specific abilities?