A Teesside headquartered driving school which launched seven months ago is now the fastest growing school in the UK.

DRIVE, which operates nationally with its head offices in Middlesbrough, has seen its instructors on the road grow by 100 in seven months – with the business on track to hit 500 cars nationally in three years.

It is the driving school arm of SmartDriving, the UK’s leading driver training organisation, which pre-pandemic held a 12 to 15 per cent market share for training driving instructors.

SmartDriving launched in 2010 and a change in Government legislation led to the business launching its driving school to complement its driver training arm.

Lockdown forced the business to put launch plans on hold, before relaunching DRIVE in October 2021.

It has also developed an 80-strong base of trainers based across the UK. As a company, SmartDriving is now able to provide a career pathway for driving instructors, from training through to a career with the driving school.

The business has worked closely with Midlands-based accountancy firm Burgis & Bullock on development plans, long-term strategy and accessing research and development tax credits to facilitate the fast growth of DRIVE.

Adam Bragg, Director of SmartDriving and DRIVE, said: “When we launched the business, we found that we were training hundreds of instructors every year, but after they had trained with us, they would move on to other driving schools.

“By launching DRIVE, the hope was that those instructors would stay with the business and build careers as driving instructors with us.

“Unfortunately, a lot of driving instructors had been stuck in the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency process as a result of delays cause by the pandemic. However, that has seen the instructors all qualify around the same time and has given the business a real growth boost.

“We’ve worked with Burgis & Bullock since day one of SmartDriving and they have been integral in the launch and initial growth of DRIVE. The firm supported us throughout the pandemic, particularly with furlough, but have also supported us to access R&D tax credits to drive growth in the business.

“The challenge now is for us to sustain this rapid growth. We’re looking to do that by showcasing the long-term career prospects in the industry, looking after our staff and further expanding the services we offer as a driving school and training provider.”

Burgis & Bullock have offices across Warwickshire, including in Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Dale Southworth, Senior Accountant at Burgis & Bullock, said: “We have closely with SmartDriving for more than 10 years, with work ranging from business strategy advice, to helping the business move from an LLP to a Limited company.

“The success of DRIVE is a perfect example of a business that bided its time during lockdown, planned in detail and put all the processes in place to make the re-launch of this driving school arm of the business a success when the time was right.”