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COA - the early years

In 1980, John Mainstone, our founder and former Managing Director, was Head of Careers at Gresham’s School in Norfolk. He had developed a system of assessing pupils’ interests, abilities and personal qualities for establishing their future careers and degree course choices. This series of questions revealed an individual’s academic and occupational interests, and was very popular with pupils and parents. John converted the system of ‘in-depth 1:1 interviewing’, which took 2½ to 5 hours per pupil, into a computer-based questionnaire which could be completed in 40 minutes. 

The first careers programme was in use in a number of schools by 1986 and from one of these, Oundle School, the Headmaster Dr Barry Trapnell had recently retired.  He was an old friend of John's and previously his Tutor at Oxford University. A chance meeting in 1985 led to Barry accepting the Chairmanship of COA, and soon after COA was incorporated as a limited liability company.

Building COA

Barry and John wrote brochures introducing their new careers programme to Head Teachers and Heads of Careers, and mounted a series of demonstrations across the UK. The tour was a great success and their client base of schools rapidly grew.

From here, further programmes and aptitude tests were carefully developed and have been continuously updated and adjusted to produce more accurate results. All our tests are regularly assessed to ensure their psychometric characteristics and reliability are of the highest standards.

Opening doors of opportunity