A Skegness woman is vying for the title of the country’s youngest driving instructor after qualifying for the role aged just 23.
Gemma Barker passed the third and final part of her Approved Driving Instructor test last Tuesday with only 23 years, seven months, and nine days on the clock, achieving the top grade of A.
It means she is likely to be among the youngest to teach a new generation to drive.
In 2013, a Freedom of Information request to the Driving Standards Agency revealed, as of January that year, the youngest instructor on its register was 22 years and two months – putting them 26-plus now (if they are still in the profession).
Elsewhere, at the end of 2015, the national press featured a 25-year-old driving instructor who had qualified at the age of 21.
Gemma was prepared for the test by Bob Taylor-Watson, of Burgh-based Clover School of Motoring, and Matt Baxter, of Horncastle’s 2 Drive 4.
These past days I have been on cloud nine
The former St Clements pupil started to learn in January, initially in Grimsby, before coming to Bob and his friend Matt through her instructor, John Leighton, in February.
Bob described her achievement as ‘phenomenal’.
“Twenty-three, okay, it can be done, but to come out with such a high grade as that and on her first attempt is really unusual,” he said, stressing also Gemma has achieved in a matter of months what ‘usually takes about two years’.
Gemma has already been teaching people to drive under a trainee driving instructor licence in partnership with Clover as Clov-her.
Of what attracted her to the profession, she said it was a chance to help people experience the same kind of ‘buzz’ she had from when she learned to drive.
She described passing the test as a ‘dream come true’.
“These past days I have been on cloud nine,” she said.
Of her achievement, Gemma added: “It’s quite unusual. I said to the examiner ‘am I one of the youngest?’ and he said ‘I think so’.”
To train as a driving instructor, you must be aged 21 or over by the time you qualify, have held a driving licence for at least three years, and completed and passed enhanced criminal records and motoring conviction checks.
After this, comes a test in three parts:
- Part one is a theory test including multiple-choice questions and hazard perception.
- Part two a test of driving ability and also includes an eyesight test and vehicle safety questions.
- Part three is a test of the candidate’s ability to instruct pupils and sees examiners play the role of two different pupils.
The pass rate in 2016/17 for this last part was just 35.9 per cent, with 1,277 passing (905 men and 372 women).