Friday, 5 August 2011

Am Dram and the DSA?

Recently I've been to see a couple of amateur dramatics shows, one in a small theatre the other outdoors.
The indoor show was "Dangerous Corner" (appropriate for a road-related blog :) ) by JB Priestly, and presented by the New Era Players.
The outdoor show (alongside the Thames in Reading, on a glorious July evening) was Shakespeare's "The Tempest", presented by the Prospect Players.
Both, as I've said, were by amateurs - but both were superb.

Sadly, though, mid-way between them I had a long talk with the owner of a local bike training centre.  To precis: he's not positive about the future of UK bike training, which is currently reeling from the recession and the effects of the introduction of the Module One off-road test - with the imminent arrival of the EU 3rd Driving Licence Directive to hammer a few more nails in the coffin . . .
There may be a glimmer of hope in that plans - although they've not progressed very far - are in place to take the off-road test elements on-road (although I'm not clear whether that would mean that Module One would be totally removed from the costly MMA sites).  However, this isn't likely to be in place (or any place, IYSWIM) until next year. 
And that on top of some terrible weather they've endured during the last couple of winters, too.
But there may, long term, be even more difficulties on the way for bike
When I first got involved with rider training it was through the RAC/ACU motorcycle training scheme (in those days we trained the motorcycles, not the riders.  While we're on that theme, why have 'railway stations' now become 'train stations'?  OK, it ties with 'bus station', but why the change?)
But back then, in the late 1970s, all civilian rider training (as far as I know) was conducted by amateurs.
The first professional rider training I can remember hearing about (the Southampton Motorcycle Centre, IIRC) was in the very early '80s.
Now, of course, even the few amateur groups remaining are working in a business area where the requirement is for substantial investment in bikes and sites.  There are probably few true amateurs remaining, but many part-time instructors.
It's been no secret that the DSA have been gradually aligning rider trainers with car ADIs.  Years ago there was a suggestion that all CBT instructors must be Cardington-qualified rather than down-trained (which, originally, allowed one 'Cardington' instructor to supervise up to 40 down-trained instructors).
The more recent RPMT (Register of Post-Test Motorcycle traininers) has its entry qualifications based on the ADI accreditation format, and teaching assessments follow the ADI format closely too.

So what's missing?

CPD - Continuing Professional Development.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) can be both formal and informal professional development, based on an individual's needs.

To maximise individual potential and retain credibility within your profession it is essential that you maintain high levels of professional competence.
As a driver trainer you can make a commitment towards professionalism by keeping up to date and continually seeking to improve your knowledge and expertise.
CPD is strongly supported by all the national driving instructor associations. The Driving Standards Agency continues to work with these organisations and other stakeholders to encourage and promote the take-up of CPD.
A structured CPD scheme is one of the options being considered as part of wider proposals to modernise the driver training profession. This would be the subject of public consultation before it could be implemented.

So, if DSA take the bike=car instructor qualification route even further (an noting that commercial vehicle - eg HGV - drivers also now have to take a minimum amount of CPD), then it won't be too long before it's imposed onto rider trainers.  Not ideal for full-timers, but nowhere near as 'good' for the part-timers, who'll have to give up unpaid time (and, presumably, take leave from the 'day job') to take CPD training.

But, in my experience, the 'average' bike instructor isn't that bad, and will be doing the 'job' because they have the interest both in what they're doing and in self-development.  The difference is that any development will have been informal and might not meet any 'mandatory CPD' requirements.
There's also a reasonable point that the bike test pass rate has historically always been higher than the 'car' rate - suggesting that bike instructors might be 'better' anyway :)  Remember, too, a lot of that will have been with amateur instructors . . .

It's a mistake to think that qualified = better, or that amateur = worse.

After all, one of Prospect's amateur actors from a few years ago is now fairly well-know, a certain Kenneth Branagh . . .


1 comment:

Kevin Williams / Survival Skills Rider Training said...

Worth pointing out that Kenneth Branaugh isn't a bad director either - ie, he's perfectly capable of directing the actions of other actors too!