Frequently Asked Questions

  • Find the date, venue and course that suits you on our events page
  • Add a deposit ticket to your basket to reserve your place with £60 deposit
  • Create an account and checkout
  • 8 weeks before event, login to your account and pay remaining balance
  • We send final paperwork, via email, around 7-10 days prior to the event
  • Complete your paperwork, sign in and complete the first theory test
  • Attend event on chosen days
book a pathfinder under 17 driving course

If you’ve already started driving lessons – give us a call on 07786 510060 before you book so we can have a chat about your experience!

Pupils will drive your car.

Instruction takes place in your car. We encourage young people to learn in a car with a manual gearbox where possible, but understand that many families have access only to automatic and electric cars.

The car must ideally have at least three seats and a handbrake accessible from the front passenger seat.

If this is a problem then please contact us before booking.

It is also worth noting that passing the DVSA test in a manual car allows a driver to also use an automatic. However, passing the DVSA test in an automatic car does not currently permit that driver to use a car with a manual gearbox.

We will endeavour during the course to provide every student with the opportunity to try a manual gearbox and master the clutch, but there is no core activity at Pathfinder which cannot be undertaken in an Automatic or Electric car.

During the week the opportunity may arise to drive other vehicles or even swap with other attendees. A student who has only learned in an auto or electric car will not be able to swap into a manual.

Our instructors are on hand from the start to help if things get tricky. Primarily however, the Associate (parent or guardian) teaches the pupil to drive.

At regular intervals, the pupil will be assessed by a Pathfinder Initiative instructor to help guide pupils and associates alike, and when appropriate move the member up a grade.

The event takes place on private land so no licence is either required or available.

Because the event takes place on private land, no vehicle to vehicle insurance is required or available – this is an ‘own risk’ activity. There is no need to inform your car insurance company.

Learning to drive is an inherently risky activity; however, the Pathfinder Initiative designs road layouts and plans activities in a manner that mitigates risk whilst maintaining a realistic situation.

The core of our Instruction and Marshal team are volunteers from the Under 17 Car Club – our sister organisation, who have taken their own children through this process – so they know and understand what you are experiencing.

Many are members of IAM Roadsmart or RoADAR. Other organisations providing Instructors include Gloucestershire, West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Force, Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership and Gloucestershire and Yorkshire IAM.

The supporting adult is a key part of the tuition process so is normally required full time for the week. This support builds and develops on existing trust enhances the learning for the students and teaches the adult a lot about the young person.

The process also requires the adult’s car. (We do manage our way around some short absences as we recognise that adults often have both jobs and other children).

Each day starts with signing in and a briefing around 08:30 – 09:00 depending on venue.

We typically finish around 16:00 – 16:30 depending on light and weather.

We are always seeking to expand the programme to new areas in conjunction with local road safety organisations and public bodies.

Meanwhile, there are reasonably priced hotels local to the venue. Subject to space on the course, students are welcome from any UK address.

The students spend about 60-65% of their time ‘in the car’ with 35-40% on discussions concerned with understanding and managing road risk including peer pressure and Highway Code knowledge.

Check out a review of Pathfinder from a past attendee on Facebook for a deeper look at the activities undertaken.

The Pathfinder Initiative takes place in a variety of different locations. These include disused airfields. Our locations provide the ideal, open space for learning to drive. We design road circuits on this space using cones to mark out roads, roundabouts etc…

Toilet facilities are available at all venues.

The Pathfinder Initiative is open to all students in the appropriate age range, regardless of other factors. Provided you, the supporting adult or associate are willing and able to provide the support we are happy to include your child.

The only limitation we impose on this inclusiveness is unmanageable risk to others – we have never yet refused entry on these grounds.

It is important to note that this under 17 driving programme is delivered by volunteer instructors who will not be expert in any learning or health conditions that may affect your child. We therefore need your guidance and support in working with them in the most effective way for them. Previous intakes have included children with autism, a range of learning difficulties, physical disabilities, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome.

Every child is accompanied throughout the week by their supporting adult. The programme is delivered within the Child Protection Policy of The Under 17 Car Club Charitable Trust and all Pathfinder Initiative adult volunteers are screened in accordance with that policy.

Reduced risk of crashing. Too many drivers crash during the first few years behind the wheel. Pathfinder explains why and gives clear guidance on how crashes can be avoided. Young drivers who have attended a Pathfinder course have been involved in significantly fewer collisions than their peers. Get on the road cheaper and quicker.

Pathfinder gives you a head start so that when you reach 17 you should need fewer lessons before taking your test. Expert tuition from highly experienced instructors. The accompanying adult will enhance their own driving skills.

find out about the value of pathfinder in this document

Yes. Our members progress through levels 3, 2, 1. Each level requires not only improved driving skills, but theory tests.

There are no extra charges beyond the initial course fee.

Once a student reaches a high enough standard of driving car swapping is encouraged to give pupils an experience of a wider range of cars. However any swapping of cars is at the discretion of the vehicle owners.

Unfortunately we are not able to provide any catering beyond tea / coffee making facilities.

You will need to bring your own lunch and snacks.

Sadly there is no easy fix on this, it is just really expensive!

The young driver market is being driven more and more by telematics (black boxes), 90% of which are offered by the online providers. Our advisers suggest that other than ‘Compare the Market’, the cost effective options are often Admiral and Direct Line.

Insurance rating and therefore cost very much depend on:

  • Car: The more stats insurers have on a particular make / model, generally the higher the premium because the better they are able to understand the risks. We suggest you think a little creatively and find a less popular car, perhaps stay away from highly popular choices like the Corsa and Fiesta?
  • Postcode: Something which cannot be changed, you live where you live.
  • Multi Car Discounts:Seek quotations from insurers (Admiral, LV, Direct Line) who offer discounts for insuring more than one vehicle on a policy – Combined the cover with that of the ‘Family’ car (s).
  • Drivers: Sometimes it cheaper to add one or both parents so it is worth getting quote with either or both on the policy.

One thing you must NOT do, is ‘front’ for a young driver. This occurs when the parent is named as the principal user instead of the young driver. To do this is potentially to perpetrate a fraud and when discovered may lead to the insurance being invalid and claims refused.

Some parents have found that adding their child as a named driver on the family car, while expensive, is cheaper overall than the cost of buying, taxing, maintaining and insuring an extra vehicle for the young driver (though that will depend on the family car!).