Entrepreneur behind Portsmouth's fastest growing driving school 1Drive vows to change stereotypes of the industry and ‘be the driving school of the next generation’
AN ENTREPRENEUR who was one of the youngest driving instructors in the country has vowed to change the stereotypes of the industry with his diverse and inclusive team.
Deucalion McGregor-Sims, 29, from Fratton, runs Portsmouth-based driving school 1Drive.
He said that when he was learning to drive, like many others, he went through various instructors before he found one he was comfortable enough with.
After realising that he was not the only one and that it was normal, he was also shocked to discover that many driving instructors take the job as one of the final steps before retirement, rather than for a passion for teaching.
He said: ‘When I was 17 I remember making a mental note of this and thinking to myself I really feel like I could do a decent job and change that stereotype.
‘Whatever job I’ve been in, the part I’ve loved the most is training and teaching others. For me, this was one of the industries that really needed good teachers.’
Wanting to make a difference, Deucalion started training to be a driving instructor at 21 and was qualified by 22, becoming one of the youngest driving instructors in the country and the youngest in the south.
Having made a name for himself within the industry as ‘the young instructor’, Deucalion found he didn’t need to advertise too much for recruitment as the school grew by itself.
He said: ‘I tried to be pleasant with my pupils and it did the work itself. It took off quickly and so a couple of years ago I decided to introduce new instructors into the industry.’
Five years ago, 1Drive was born and now has 11 instructors on its team. They have taught hundreds of learners across Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham and plan to expand the school further across the region.
Deucalion said: ‘Everyone remembers their driving instructor, and it’s our choice as instructors whether people remember us for the right reasons or the wrong reasons. I’m particular with who we work with and every one of the team joined because they share that same ethos.’
Also wanting to build ‘a team of diversity’, Deucalion has made the effort to take on individuals who are new to the industry and ‘go against the stereotype’ of typical driving instructors.
He said: ‘We’ve got instructors in their 20s and early 30s, we’ve got female instructors, prior to Covid we were meant to have a couple of Europeans joining our team too, and since Covid we’ve taken on people who were made redundant during the pandemic.’
As evidence of its success, one of the team is a former 1Drive learner, which Deucalion believes shows how treating learners with respect is the most successful way to teach anything.
He said: ‘I have never done anything that I consider to be groundbreaking. The first thing I do is I don’t see my pupils as my pupils, I treat them exactly how I would treat any human being, with decency and kindness. If you do that I promise you that your pupils will value you and respect you and stay loyal to you.’
‘Some of my best friends are people that I met through this job, when I first met them I just treated them with compassion, kindness and patience. I’m just genuinely interested in people and meeting people.’
Deucalion said if anyone doubts the quality of 1Drive’s teaching or is sceptical due to their young team, they can look at reviews on Yelp, Google and their social media pages.
He is determined to stand out from other driving schools in the area and change the way that driving instructors are perceived.
He said: ‘We want to keep recruiting new instructors, changing the way that people learn to drive and changing the stereotypes that people have about the industry.’
‘Ever since I set up 1Drive, I always wanted to be a driving school that did things differently, in the way that we teach, in where our values lie. We are different, you won’t find another driving school anywhere near where we are in terms of the number of instructors who are in their 20s and 30s who push the principles and ethics that we push.’
Deucalion said that he is also currently looking to hire more instructors and he is especially keen to hear from people who speak another language.