As a fully qualified driving instructor, you’ll be registered as an ADI. An ADI is an approved driving instructor. A completely different licence is issued for those who are still in the process of their training.
That’s called the PDI licence, which is a licence to be a potential driving instructor.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll pass part 3 of the Driving Instruction Training. Once you obtain your PDI licence there are some restrictions on your teaching, but you are still able to teach your own pupils in a vehicle yourself and charge the same rates as an ADI.
Every driving instructor, regardless whether they hold a PDI badge or an ADI badge, must display that in their vehicles. This is how pupils know if they’re being trained by a Probationary Driving Instructor, or an Approved Driving Instructor.
Both badges will have expiry dates on them, as even as an ADI, you still have to sit a check test once in every 4-year period to remain on the ADI register. PDI badges will only be issued for a maximum period of 6 months. This is the time you get to teach your own pupils, gaining on the job experience, in preparation for part 3 of your driving instructor test. PDI badge holders will also be required to undertake 40 hours of driving tuition with an ADI during the first 3 months of obtaining their PDI badge, although the 40 hours tuition will be required sooner if the third instructor exam date comes up before that time expires. In order to get a PDI badge, you first have to sit your theory test, and the first stage of your training. The 2nd stage of the training is only based on the instructors own driving abilities. The third stage of the training is the part where potential instructors are tested on their ability to teach. So for students being trained by a PDI, they can only be sure that their instructor can meet good driving standards. Training coming from a PDI doesn’t mean that students get subpar training. It just means that their instructor hasn’t proven their teaching abilities to the standards required by the DSA.
A probationary driving instructor only has a 6-month maximum period to pass stage 3 of the training. The test can be taken 3 times at maximum, but that needs to be before the PDI badge expires, which will be 6 months from the date of issue. If a student is training up to 6 month with their instructor, they’ll start to get comfortable with their instructor. If then the PDI doesn’t pass stage 3 of their training, the student will be required to establish a new relationship with a different instructor. If people are training with a driving school who have a few PDIs on their fleet, then it could mean them having different driving instructors, and that can slow down the time it takes for them to pass their driving test. So not everyone is going to be comfortable training with a PDI and will prefer to be taught by an Approved Driving Instructor. That way they can be sure that they’ll have the same instructor from the start of their training, right through until they pass their driving test.
Every ADI will have been tested on their teaching abilities and meet the requirements of the DSA. Fully qualified instructors will often undergo continual professional development as well. The longer an instructor is teaching for, the more check tests they’ll have completed, therefore experienced driving instructors, have a continued proven ability to teach in this profession. Pupils can also benefit from knowing that they’re going to be dealing with the same instructor throughout the course of their tuition.