What is Cardington?

Cardington in Bedfordshire is where the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has their training headquarters (as opposed to Nottingham where they have most of their administration). The site at Cardington has a large off road section devoted to motorcycle training, and it is here that they developed the Module 1 test layout. It is now also used as a part-time test centre.

All motorcycle instructors who want to be able to teach people to ride on 500cc machine (the Direct Access Scheme) must attend two courses at Cardington. The first one tests their ability to conduct and supervise Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), and the second one tests their ability to teach students on larger bikes. The test is conducted by a DSA examiner.

All our staff have completed and passed both tests.


1/. Can an instructor teach if they have not been to Cardington?
Yes they can but only for students on motorcycles/scooters up to 125cc. These instructors are described as "down-trained", in other words the only training they have received is the "down-training" from a qualified Cardington instructor.

2/. Does that mean "down-trained" instructors aren't the real deal?
No, not at all, it just means they haven't gone to Cardington yet.

3/. Are the Cardington tests difficult?
Yes they are; the pass rate is in the region of 40%.

4/. Do they do instructor training at Cardington?
No, the DSA expect motorcycle training schools to have trained their own staff before sending them to Cardington.

5/. What happens if an instructor fails one of the Cardington tests?
If an instructor fails the CBT course then if they failed because their instruction was poor the DSA will take their CBT card (and therefore their livelihood) away, if they fail because only their supervision was poor then they keep their card. In practise the DSA normally keep the card if they fail. If they fail the Direct Access Scheme course then nothing happens; they just have to try again (but they only get two attempts per year).

6/. So going to Cardington is a bit of a gamble for an instructor?
You could say that!

7/. Cardington is a test centre for the public - is that right?
The DSA have found themselves so short of test centres that they have had to resort to using their training centre for conducting the Module 1 motorcycle test. However, our understanding is that the number of tests that they are conducting is relatively low. Presumably because it is in the middle of nowhere and not within 45 minutes or 20 miles of 90% of the public.

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