NASP Update – September 2020
Here’s the latest monthly update on activity undertaken by the National Associations Strategic Partnership on behalf of the industry. For further updates and access to a host of useful information and resources please also visit http://www.n-a-s-p.co.uk
NASP comment on continued closure of waiting rooms
You’ll have read this month of NASP’s frustration at the continuing closure of Test Centre waiting rooms. We’ve raised the issue frequently, and asked for a clearer line of sight on when waiting rooms may reopen, as trainers are already starting to be left out in the cold as Autumn arrives.
It is notable that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have also written to DVSA highlighting that the failure to provide adequate sanitary facilities and waiting spaces to customers (and what HSE deems as ‘workers’ in this context, i.e trainers), is contrary to health and safety legislation and regulation.
DVSA have maintained to date that it is difficult to open waiting rooms across the board due to the challenges of ensuring social distancing (and need to limit exposure for all users to COVID-19), staffing challenges, and the issue at some test centres that waiting rooms are being pressed into service as extra office space to allow staff to socially distance.
We should make it clear that NASP has not necessarily simply demanded that waiting rooms open immediately, pragmatically we realise some of the challenges highlighted by DVSA make this difficult. But we do continue to press for DVSA giving us a timeline for when they expect waiting rooms to be re-opened, and that that timeline should factor in the change of seasons which is upon us, and the likelihood of inclement weather. And if waiting rooms cannot be opened up – what is the alternative?
In respect of this issue, NASP will also asking why (with the advent of Examiner’s entire ‘office’ being available on their tablets now) so much office space is still needed that waiting rooms need to be pressed into service as extra office space in some locations – even allowing for social distancing requirements. As Examiners are largely out of the office on test most days, and work from a tablet now, the traditional office set up is not necessarily needed in the same way.
The regulator maintains it is continuing discussions with HSE about the use of waiting rooms for driving instructors. We will continue to press the agency on this important issue which has the potential to impact the health and welfare of trainers across the board, even in the context of the decision to keep waiting rooms closed being made for health and safety reasons.
NASP also notes member feedback on some test centres still refusing access to toilet facilities and has taken the ones reported to us up with DVSA. Please keep feeding in your experiences on the ground to us or your national associations (ADINJC, DIA and MSA being the groups which form NASP and the only ADI associations or groups to have first tier representation to DVSA).
NASP Advice on Regional Lockdowns
Here’s our latest advice on regional lockdowns and how they impact testing and training. NASP will continue to follow up with DVSA for the latest updates.
• Detail is still emerging from central government on guidance for the areas impacted by these latest regional lockdowns. NASP advises all trainers to check guidance for their local authority.
• Guidance for other areas can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing
• Check local council and regional authority websites for more detailed guidance in lockdowns in your area as local and regional authorities may have different advice and approaches for their area
• There has been no guidance to date that driver and rider training has been suspended in locked down areas and DVSA have continued to offer testing in all locked down areas to date.
• Therefore it is at the discretion and risk of individual trainers as to whether or not to continue training in the areas impacted
• Trainers should continue to take every measure to mitigate the risk of exposure and infection as advised in the NASP Guidelines on driver trainers safely returning to work (2nd July 2020) and available from the NASP website
• At all times consider the risks of continuing to train, and take a risk management based approach to training, considering both regional and central government advice
• If you live outside of area which have been locked down, consider whether you should be mitigating the risks of working in areas impacted at this time as you could expose yourself to infection, or risk encouraging the spread of infection – this could mean not taking out pupils from within locked down areas, or not using routes within these areas
• If you live and work within a locked down area consider whether your should be travelling to other areas outside of the locked down zone to teach, or teaching at all at this time within a locked down area.
• We will advise you via NASP statements if DVSA confirm any test centre closures in effected areas.
Other useful information:
Concerns over theory test availability continue
We campaigned for an extension to theory test certificates, and saw Northern Ireland grant one but not the rest of the UK. We asked the Minister to consider special provisions for pupils with special educational needs, and never even got a reply. Now, we’re asking what will happen to those pupils who have waited so long for a practical test, are now finding their theory test will expire before the practical slot they’ve only just been able to book and there’s so little availability of theory tests generally?
Theory Test provision continues to be a serious concern for NASP and its members, and we continue to press DVSA on when theory test availability will improve.
Guidance on changes to Part 3 and Standards Check Assessments
Filming was completed last week with DVSA on a guidance video walking trainers through the changes to the way ADI and PDI assessments are conducted in the context of COVID-19 and should shortly be available.
NASP also completed a PowerPoint presentation on the guidance too which we hoped to have shared with the industry by now but DVSA are still working on the advice given and we await their feedback before we release it.
In the meantime, NASP has a useful summary of the changes on the NASP website you can view and if you have any queries you can speak to your national association or ORDIT trainer for advice and to help prepare for your next assessment.
Asking the questions and seeking the solutions
Each week (and often daily), as the first tier stakeholder to DVSA for the industry – and other government agencies whose work impacts our members -we upload a tonne of questions and queries, and seek clarifications on other key issues from the regulator.
From the ongoing pain that is the online booking system, to the lack of capacity for testing to meet demand, theory test woes, to what’s happening with ADI and PDI assessments in the face of COVID – please be reassured – you ask us, it goes on our list and is chased up regularly, even if we don’t always get the answers we want, in the timescale we want.
Keep your feedback, questions and queries coming through to your respective associations so NASP can ensure they are highlighted where it matters most and push for answers or solutions.
The NJC continues to be dedicated to help you in these challenging times and we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.
Please feel free to contact us for help and support.
ADINJC’s helpline is 0800 8202 444
The Secretary’s number is 07855 453414
The ADINJC is a national association run by ADIs on a not-for-profit basis. We work tirelessly to inform, represent and support our members, and to promote the interests of our profession.