The history of COA

John Mainstone, our founder and former Managing Director, established Cambridge Occupational Analysts after a successful career in industry, publishing and teaching. Whilst Head of Careers at a secondary school in North Norfolk, he developed a series of questions to assess pupils’ interests, abilities and personal qualities to help them with their careers and degree course choices.

Popular with pupils and parents, John converted this 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.

By 1986, the first careers programme was adopted in a number of schools and the former Headmaster of Oundle School, Dr Barry Trapnell, had accepted the Chairmanship of COA. Barry and John’s client base of schools rapidly grew and further programmes and aptitude tests were carefully developed in conjunction with Occupational Psychologist Dr Charles Johnson.

These were, and continue to be, updated and adjusted to produce more accurate results. To this day, all our tests are regularly assessed to ensure their psychometric reliability is of the highest standard.