How to choose a driving school
This is the single most important decision you’ll make when learning to drive. It’s crucial you get it right! Here are some steps for choosing a cheap driving school that works for you.
What to look for
- Fast matching: You shouldn’t have to wait a week to get allocated an instructor. A good school of motoring will get you matched within a few days. Midrive learners are typically matched with a driving instructor within 24 hours.
- Local instructors: Good driving schools will have instructors that - service your area. This might be a driving school near you, or a national school with a lot of reach. Midrive has more than 3,000 instructors all over the UK.
- Easy instructor swap: Everyone is different, and there’s no guarantee an instructor’s teaching style will match your learning style. You need to know your driving school will let you swap instructors. Midrive lets you swap instructors at any time, at no cost.
- Fast customer service: The last thing you want to do is be given the runaround by your driving school. Great schools are ready to answer your questions and resolve issues when they arise not days later. Midrive’s customer support team respond to chat and call queries in under a minute.
- Unused lesson refund: Driving schools love to sell learners big, expensive packages. What they don’t like doing is refunding the remaining hours of a package when the learner passes earlier than they expected. Midrive refunds your unused hours when you pass, giving you all that sweet cash back. You deserve it!
When you’re researching driving schools, it’s important to find out what type of instructors they use. There are two types of instructors:
Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs): These are fully qualified driving instructors who have well-rounded skill sets and a wealth of experience. They have been taught and graded by instructor trainers and should be able to quote the result of their most recent grading. This will be A (high standard of instruction), B (sufficient level of instruction), or a fail (unsatisfactory level of instruction).
Potential Driving Instructors (PDIs): These are instructors still in training. They are unlikely to have the same level of technical knowhow and practical experience as an ADI. Cheap driving schools might use them, but you’re not going to get the best value for money.
A good school of motoring will match you with their best instructors, and rightly so. You don’t want to be stuck learning with another learner! Midrive uses ADIs exclusively, so our learners only get the highest quality instruction.
Obviously, you want the highest quality instructor you can find. The question is: how do you know if a driving school has good instructors? One way to determine this is to look at the average number of instructors a learner is taught by before they pass.
This is significant in a few ways. Firstly, learning with a single instructor is more efficient, as the ‘getting to know each other’ time is reduced. Secondly, instructors are usually discarded because they’re unreliable, uncommunicative, or uncommitted to their students’ learning outcomes.
None of those are desirable, so it pays to find out what kind of ‘instructor turnover’ learners go through at a prospective school of motoring. This could be from information you find in reviews, get from recommendations, or ask of the school directly.
At Midrive, we only use the best instructors rated by learners like you. Our average is 1.3 instructors per learner, which means the vast majority of our learners stay with their first instructor until they pass their test. You deserve to do it as well!
Don’t believe the hype around pass rates! They’re easily manipulated, hard to verify, and based on unreliable data. Let’s talk a little about what we mean by ‘unreliable data’.
Imagine this, there are three learners at BB Driving School: Learner A does 40 hours of lessons before their test and passes first time. Learner B does 20 hours of lessons, fails, then does 20 more and passes the second time. Learner C does 10 hours of lessons before each test and passes on the fourth time.
All of these passes and failures have equal weighting on a school’s pass rate. Yet, the school had no control over when the learners took their test. In fact, the data shows that the school was pretty consistent in terms of its teaching quality: it took all three learners 40 hours of lessons to pass.
BB Driving School would have a pass rate of 43%, which isn’t great. But its pass time of 40 hours is actually below the UK average (47 hours). This shows that the standard of instruction at BB is, in fact, quite good. It also shows that pass rates don’t mean as much as we think!
P.S. Midrive has an average pass time of 30 hours, that’s 17 hours below the UK average!
The internet is a fantastic resource for sourcing driving school reviews. The important thing is to make sure you use independent sources. Don’t just read the reviews on a driving school’s homepage as these will only be the best reviews they’ve received. And there’s no guarantee they weren’t written by the school of motoring itself!
The best places to find reliable reviews are sites like Driving School Reviews, Trustpilot, and Google. They allow you to find good and bad reviews, and give companies a chance to graciously own their failures. Often a company’s response to criticism is a better indicator of their customer service than the criticism itself!
Top tip: How to read reviews
Getting knowledge isn’t just a matter of opening up a site and reading. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and it pays to have a good filter for what is and isn’t relevant.
- Read widely: We recommend using at least 3 different sources. The three sites listed above are a good start, but places like Facebook and Yell work as well. The important thing is that you trust the source.
- Read the middle: 3-star reviews will be a considered mix of positives and negatives. These will give you a really good impression of what is most likely to go right and go wrong in a typical experience.
- Read the top: 5-star reviews are good for understanding what a perfect scenario with a driving school looks like. Look at the percentage of 5-star reviews to get a rough estimate of how likely that is to happen to you.
- Read the bottom: 1-star reviews will usually contain a range of worst case scenarios. Check if any of them are likely to apply to you, and look at the schools’ responses. Was it strictly their fault or a combination of factors?
- Read a while: The amount of time that you read reviews will depend on how thorough you like to be and the quality of the information you find. Usually, you’ll get a feeling at some point that you’re ready to make a decision.
Types of driving schools
Automatic driving schools: Whilst there aren’t any schools of motoring that exclusively offer automatic driving lessons, some driving schools are better equipped to be 'automatic driving schools’ than others. Generally, the larger the school, the more likely it is it’ll have automatic instructors with availability that suits your schedule.
Intensive driving schools: Most driving schools offer both regular and intensive driving courses. The difference is simply the length of time between lessons. Some schools of motoring might prefer offering intensive courses and thus refer to itself as an ‘intensive driving school’. Remember, this is often a business decision, not an educational one.
Crash course driving schools: These are often just intensive driving schools with another name. And although the term ‘crash course driving school’ doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, some people might prefer to get their learning done within a short timeframe. Again, most schools and instructors will offer crash courses if you ask.
Advanced driving schools: There are various types of advanced driving schools. These might be driving schools that offer pass plus courses, or courses that deal with specific scenarios. They could also be courses for people interested in driving professionally, or learning techniques used by racing and stunt drivers!
Not just car driving schools: They might be the most common, but car driving schools are not the only type out there. Motorcycle driving schools cover riding skills. Van driving schools offer courses for delivery and other professional drivers. And truck driving schools specialise in the use of industrial and intercity transport vehicles.
Comparing driving school prices
There are a lot of things in life where choosing the cheapest is simply the best option. Paper plates, water rates, mobile plans for your nan, none of these things require any more investment than the bare minimum. Driving schools though, they’re a different story entirely.
Some schools of motoring will offer unbelievable introductory prices. The prospect of cut-price driving lessons may seem compelling, but there’s always a catch. Usually the hours in introductory offers have to be used at certain times of the day or week. These may not fit your schedule.
Others are simply cheap driving schools all around. And that’s a catch in itself! Cheap driving schools that have abnormally low prices are probably using Potential Driving Instructors (PDIs) rather than Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs).
PDIs might be decent drivers themselves, but they’re still learning how to teach! They are cheaper to employ, though, and this allows schools to advertise cheaper rates than if they were using ADIs. If you had to learn a crucial life skill with an expensive test at the end of the course, which would you prefer?
Remember when you compare driving school prices that you get what you pay for. Going cheap sounds great, but you’ll learn much slower with a less experienced instructor. This means you’ll have to take more lessons, and maybe even fail the practical test. How much is all that going to cost you?
Our advice when you compare driving school prices is to simply find the best school you can and not worry about the price. Okay, if they’re charging £40 an hour that’s a bit extreme, but you really can, and should, put a price on quality when you’re talking about learning to drive.
How do I find the best driving school near me?
There’s no single best way to find a driving school near you, but rather a combination of factors that might land you the perfect school of motoring!
- Friends’ recommendations: If your friend or relative has had a great experience learning to drive with a particular school in your area, then that is definitely a good place to start. If they passed first time after the experience, that’s even better!
- Reviews and forums: Checking review sites like Trustpilot and local forums is a good way to get a wider selection of people’s opinions about local driving schools. Try looking on social media sites like Facebook for reviews and ratings as well.
- Comparison sites: When you want to compare the finer details of local driving schools there’s no better place to go than comparison sites like Driving School Reviews. Here you can find information about price and teaching quality, as well as user reviews.
- DVSA approved instructor directory: If you’re still looking for a local driving school after all that, you should try the DVSA Approved Instructor Directory. There are bound to be some lessons going in your area!
What’s the best driving school in 2019?
It’s hard to say definitely which is the best driving school in 2019, as there are a lot of different factors. That said, we’ve tried by putting together the latest Trustpilot scores! Note that AA don’t use Trustpilot so they aren’t figured.
How it works
Choose a package, select your availability and pay a £25 deposit.
Get matched with an instructor within 24 hours.
Start your lessons. The remaining payment is taken when your first lesson is confirmed.
Find out more
Wave goodbye to your traditional driving schools and say hello to the Midrive way!
We cover the majority of the UK. And as the #1 rated national driving lesson provider on Trustpilot, we’re confident that wherever you’re based you won’t find a better school - or better value for money. That’s right, whether you’re cosied up in the Scottish Highlands or flitting between galleries in the capital, we’ve got you covered.
We’ll match you with an experienced local instructor and support your learning with in-app tips, articles and lesson feedback - all tailored to your stage in the learner journey. All our instructors are fully qualified and DBS security checked. Plus, we only continue to work with instructors who’ve been rated at least 4 out of 5 by learners.
Here at Midrive, we believe that learning to drive can be quick, affordable and (we promise...) fun! That’s why we’re proud to say that we’re more than just a driving school.
No matter where you call home, we’ll have a top-rated local instructor for you. Just type in your postcode and we’ll show you the prices for your area.
Some of our most popular locations include Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Whether you’re in one of our top locations, or anywhere else in the UK, keep your eyes peeled for one of our branded instructor cars pootling along a road near you!
It’s a fact of life that we all learn at different rates. While some people like to go slowly, others take to driving like ducks to water! On top of that, pass rates tend to vary depending on where you’re learning, with some test centres proving more difficult than others.
However, if an instructor has a pass rate that’s way below average, there could be something to worry about. You’ll want to make sure that your driving school’s pass rate is at least in line with the national average of 46.3% - or higher!
Well, you’ll be happy to hear that ours is 65%. On top of that, Midrive learners are 38% more likely to pass first time, and they typically pass in 17 fewer hours than the UK average - saving them time and money in the long run!
If that doesn’t prove to you that our unique combination of trusted instructors and in-app support really works, then we don’t know what will.
When you’re picking a driving school, make sure to watch out for false pass rate claims. If a school is claiming to have a pass rate of 90% or above, be sure to ask them how they reached this figure. In our experience, they won’t be able to tell you!
So, if your looking for a straightforward and hassle-free way to learn to drive, come onboard! With our in-app feedback and trusted instructors helping you keep track of your progress, there’s no better way to pass faster and smarter.