The UK's first curriculum-based driving qualification for school students is now in its second year, and has expanded to include other schools across the region.
The BTEC in Driving & Driver Education combines classroom theory sessions with practical in-car training, and is an ideal start to a young driver's career. The course features a modular structure and is available to Year 12 and 13 students to take alongside their A-levels. Encouraging students to think critically about how, when and why we drive, the course stresses the importance not only of driving safely but also of being a safe passenger, as well as preparing students for a lifetime of car ownership.
Car crashes are the number one cause of death for young people globally. In the UK, drivers in the 17-24 age group are responsible for 27 percent of all car driver fatalities, despite them making up only 12 percent of the driving population. 1 in every 5 young drivers has a crash within 6 months of passing their test. Better education and increased awareness of the dangers inherent in driving have long been recognised as the best ways to reduce the number of young people dying needlessly on our roads. This course, developed by Driving Force Training Ltd, aims to educate young people about the risks and hazards they face on the roads, and how to avoid them, as well as the practical aspects of learning to drive.
The BTEC course aims to address the flaws in the current system of learning to drive by examining the pupil's fundamental beliefs about driving, their awareness of their own and their vehicle's limitations, and to instil a sense of personal responsibility and pride in their own driving. The course aims to provide a sound foundation upon which students can build to become safer drivers, and we encourage students to view the qualification as a vital first step in a long career of safe driving.
Amongst the many areas covered by the BTEC, students are given the opportunity to experience the debilitating effects of drink-driving and driving under the influence of drugs, including visual impairment and severely diminished manual dexterity, through the use of 'drunk driving goggles'. The course also provides a hard-hitting look at the consequences of driving at excessive speed, and gives students practical experience of carrying out the essential vehicle maintenance checks needed to stay safe on the roads.
During the course, students get used to driving with their peers and critically assessing their own and each other's performance both as a driver and a passenger. Statistics show that a significant proportion of crashes involving young people occur when there's a number of passengers in the car. In fact, the risk of a crash for 17-20 year-olds increases by 45 percent with every added passenger on board. Learning the importance of being a good passenger who allows the driver to concentrate on their driving is a key component of our programme.
Other areas covered by the course include vehicle construction and use, in-car safety systems, the psychology of driving and what makes a good driver, and the rules of the road. Lessons are designed to be fun and stimulating, with an emphasis on learning through active engagement, discussion and role play. We use a wide range of teaching resources, including presentations, images, and video, as well as specialist equipment such as 'beer goggles' and breathalysers, to ensure that sessions deliver important road safety issues in an enjoyable and accessible format.
If you would like full details of the course content, please e-mail us for a brochure.
"Under the current system, the theory element of the licensing process is not regulated in any way and the test is usually passed through last minute cramming, meaning that most of the knowledge gained is already a fading memory by the time they have left the test centre. A young driver may then acquire a driver's licence after sometimes receiving as little as 20 hours of driving tuition. This would allow them to drive independently on motorways, major A roads, and in busy city centres; areas where their performance may or may not have been assessed during their driving test, or, even more worryingly, dealt with by their instructor."
"The BTEC course has been accredited by Edexcel and has been carefully designed to deal specifically with the real issues that young people face on the roads, whether it's understanding the risks of crowding into a mate's first car and driving at high speeds, or knowing the basics of how to check the oil and their legal responsibilities in relation to the cars they drive. This BTEC will ensure that all students who take part will have the best possible chance to become drivers who are safe, knowledgeable, technically competent and socially responsible."
The BTEC course is based around the four levels of the European Goals for Driver Education (GDE) Matrix and covers everything from the physical control of the vehicle, through our interactions with other road users and the reasons why we make journeys and use cars to our fundamental beliefs about driving.
Nailsea School Technology, Media & Arts College is the first school in the country to offer the BTEC course after initially running taster courses in driving skills in the school holidays.
"We spend a lot of time at school educating students about the dangers of drink and drugs or the importance of safe sex, and yet they’re actually more likely to be affected by a serious road accident, and, under the current system, we do nothing to address this. At Nailsea School, we are proud to be the first in the country to offer this course to our students."
"The taster courses have been a huge success so we're delighted our students can now take part in this new BTEC, which has been carefully designed to fit around the students' other studies. Nailsea School can now offer an even wider subject portfolio to their sixth form students, and provide them with a valuable life skill. The course is truly inclusive, as it is the only qualification the school offers that is open to all ability levels. Additionally, the course has been specially designed with the help of one of our Banstead instructors, so that it can also be offered to students with disabilities. A number of these students have already taken part in the taster courses with great success."
Nailsea is a community school and it is a key aim at the school to make a positive contribution to making our community a safer place. Our main aim now is to make this unique and exciting qualification available to other schools around the country, contributing to safer communities everywhere, so if you are a teacher, student or parent and would like to know more, please get in touch today!
 Source: Department for Transport, 2009
This course is offered to students in Years 10 & 11 (14-16) and is both an introduction to safe driving practice and a taster for the BTEC course. It has both theory and practical elements and culminates in an exciting off road driving experience - currently at Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire.
The course was developed initially to offer to Year 12 students as a fun and informative safety-based introduction to the driving environment, which would take place in holiday periods, based at Nailsea School and hosted by Driving Force Training Ltd.
Following the decision to develop the BTEC programme for Year 12, it was decided that the 3 day course would act as an introductory programme for Year 10/11 students, and that intervention of this kind was conducive to the aims outlined in the MERIT report and the GDE Matrix.
Anyone in Years 10 & 11 may attend and the programme is not exclusive to Nailsea School. Several schools from the surrounding area now send students to take part in the course and feedback has been very positive. The course is available to and has been delivered successfully for students with disabilities, through the use of Banstead registered instructors for the disabled.
Students take part in short theory workshops, dealing with areas such as the risks faced by drivers, legal responsibilities, routine maintenance, drink, drugs & driving, the Highway Code and the psychology of driving. Each element is dealt with in a fun and interactive way, and students are encouraged to participate fully.
Each school-based day also contains an element of practical driving, where students work in teams of three pupils to one instructor to master basic car control skills. Students are actively encouraged to critique both their own and each other's progress and suggest strategies for improvement.
Day 3 of the course includes a field trip to Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire, where students are able to use the whole of the extensive private road network to gain experience of more complex manoeuvring, dealing with junctions and roundabouts, as well as practising cornering and using the higher gears on the track itself.
Students who complete the course are then able to attend subsequent Castle Combe days to further enhance their skills, prior to becoming eligible for the BTEC course.