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Helping young care leavers to drive

AA Charitable Trust calls for support to continue giving driving lessons to teenage care leavers

10 May 2018

Giving teenage care leavers driving lessons could be of ‘disproportionate benefit’, according to a report into a ground-breaking project funded by the AA Charitable Trust. 

  • Ground-breaking project backed by Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner.
  • New AA-Populus research* shows that young drivers value their licence on a par with a degree or getting married

The Trust has approached the Government with the findings from the report as it continues with a project giving young care leavers the opportunity to get behind the wheel. 

Busy city centre dual carriageway junction

Self-esteem and self-confidence

The report, which is referenced in the latest executive summary of the project, also noted ‘there was a particular payoff with young people’s self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as in forging social relationships with supportive adults’. 

The project was originally set up as a pilot in 2011 between The AA Charitable Trust, Bristol City Council and the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. 

Following the success of the pilot Professor David Berridge OBE, who led the study from the University of Bristol, worked with the Trust to expand the project in its second stage.

Three other councils joined the project and put forward young care leavers to take part. The AA Charitable Trust funded £8,000 of driving lessons with the AA Driving School with the result that three people have passed their tests, one test is pending and three more are still taking lessons. 

Benefits highlighted to the Children's Commissioner

Edmund King OBE, AA Charitable Trust Director, has recently written to Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner, to highlight the project to the Government. 

Mr King, said: “When we launched this project in 2011 we were confident it would have a positive impact on disadvantaged young people, but had no idea it would be as beneficial as it has been."

When we launched this project in 2011 we were confident it would have a positive impact on disadvantaged young people, but had no idea it would be as beneficial as it has been
Edmund King OBE, AA Charitable Trust Director
Independence and mobility

“What has really stood out for us is not so much the benefit that being able to drive brings in terms of independence and mobility, but the benefits that just the process of having lessons brings – regardless of whether participants actually passed their test in the end or not. 

“We want support for care leavers to continue in this way and are keen for organisations who can help to come forward.”

Most valuable life experiences

New figures from AA-Populus research* show many young people, in particular, value learning to drive with one in six (15%) of 18-24-year-olds saying it is the most valuable life experience compared to one in ten (10%) of all drivers surveyed. 

Young drivers value a driving licence on a par with getting a degree or getting married/having a civil partnership (both 12%).

Professor David Berridge said: “Care leavers have often had a very difficult start to life and lack family support.  

“This initiative showed that driving lessons provided a boost to self-confidence as well as learning a skill that could be essential to adult life, including leading to employment.”

This initiative showed that driving lessons provided a boost to self-confidence as well as learning a skill that could be essential to adult life, including leading to employment
Professor David Berridge OBE, University of Bristol

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “This is an excellent initiative which has had a really positive impact on the care leavers who have taken part. 

This is an excellent initiative which has had a really positive impact on the care leavers who have taken part
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England

“It’s really important that young people leaving care are supported as they begin living independently and I hope the Government and others will look closely at how these pilots can be extended so that many more care leavers can benefit from them in the future.” 


* Populus received 17, 024 responses from AA members to its online poll between the 16 and 23 January 2018. 

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