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Portrait of Stephen Our Chief Instructor, Stephen Bell, holds an Honours degree in engineering and a Master's degree in Information Technology. Before entering the driving education field he spent some 17 years in the IT and telecommunications industries working mostly in quality assurance and systems acceptance testing. He then successfully studied for Qualified Teacher Status and became a high-school teacher of IT and computing, teaching learners from key stage 3 up to 'A'-level.

Stephen has always had an interest in all forms of transport and particularly in motoring. He passed his driving test in June 1980 (at the first attempt, naturally!). To date, he has something of the order of two million miles of driving behind him, in the UK, in north America, in western- and central Europe and in the Balkans. Vehicles he's used at various times include cars, motorcycles, open-wheel racing cars, minibuses, class C large goods vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and tanks. Weirdly and perhaps unconvincingly, he still refuses to be labelled a petrol-head.

Over the years Stephen became increasingly concerned about the safety of people using our roads as a number of acquaintances, friends and family members became victims of road traffic incidents. In 1996 he took and passed the Institute of Advanced Motorists' advanced driving test and subsequently became a volunteer observer for his local IAM group.

PassRap, mean, green and moody Between 1997 and 2011, Stephen spent a great deal of time in Central Europe. His concern about road safety became serious alarm: in parts of Europe there is hardly a family that has not lost at least one member to the roads. It's as though the roads are a particularly nasty war zone. He says he cannot understand why there isn't a huge, public uprising against the carnage caused by poor driving standards in such areas. Use of motorised vehicles in public spaces is a concession and a privilege. It does not confer the right to injure or to kill. Stephen decided to devote his energies to ensuring that new drivers are properly educated to drive safely for life. He took the ADI exams and became a DSA Approved Driving Instructor in 2006.

For some time Stephen used a national driving school franchise. He was lead to believe (strictly off the record) that he quickly became the most effective, successful teacher working with the company. He was given a "trouble shooting" rôle, having students assigned to him who, for example, had struggled with other schools, needed to convert from foreign driving qualifications to the UK driving test, who were returning to driving after driving bans or who were required to take the Extended test.

In 2008 Stephen set up 'AutoScholar, Driving Education' to deliver quality teaching and learning to student drivers in his area. In 2009 Stephen completed a DVSA-accredited training course and passed the three examinations necessary to join the DVSA Register of Fleet Driver Trainers.

PA55 RAP on the move Stephen remains fascinated by the art and craft of teaching and learning, bringing appropriate elements of his school-teaching experience to driver education. Every lesson is planned and adapted to the needs of his individual student. We believe that effective teaching and learning does save lives: we envisage each of our students contributing to a statistical reduction in the casualty rates on our roads, perhaps for the next seventy years!

Stephen has taken the Driving Instructors' Association's DIAmond Special Test, one of the most rigorous assessments of driving standards that a civilian can take. He passed with flying colours and was elected to the MasterDriver Club. In 2021 he also passed the IAM Roadsmart Masters driving test with Distinction. He is also an Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)-accredited Local Observer.

Just for fun (and as part of his Continuing Professional Development), in 2014 Stephen passed his Class C LGV driving test, which he finds helps him to teach his students to understand and to interact safely with with the larger vehicles they'll encounter on the roads.

At his most recent DVSA Standards Check, Stephen was awarded an A-Grade, putting him in the top flight of UK driving instructors.

It is commonly believed that one DVSA practical driving test in every 4000 results in a clean sheet - that is, no recorded driving errors at all. If that is so, then many driving instructors must never see one. In a little over three years, between December 2015 and May 2019, no fewer than seven of Stephen's candidates returned with zero errors on their test report forms! Just as we came out of one of the Covid lockdowns, another client achieved an eighth clean sheet and as of May 2023 the tally stands at nine. Privately, and with some justification, Stephen is just a little proud of that. However, he warns that a tenth clean sheet just might trigger his retirement...

We don't do Driver Training. We educate people who drive cars. To us, this is an important distinction.