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Open Partnership Model

Cloud created by:

Chris Targett
9 October 2014

I aim to use this cloud to add details of the Open Partnership Model (currently a work in progress). As our ideas develop, I will post working documents here.

I am interested to hear what other professionals think of these ideas so, if you would like to add to the discussions, please post below... join in the conversation.

Many thanks, 


More details to follow soon. October 2014

Extra content

Transcript of article published in Careers Matters, July 2014:

Career Development and Systems Theory (STF): a further model: Open Partnership Model (OPM)

Having begun a constructivist analysis of careers work (featured in the October 2013 edition of Careers Matters) Chris Targett and his colleagues are conducting ongoing research which, has resulted in developing an interpretive model of careers guidance; presented to delegates at this year’s National  Career Guidance Show in London and Leicester as  work in progress.

Is this a new model?

We are reluctant to call this a ‘new’ model, as it is a re-interpretation of different theories including those by Wendy Patton and Mary McMahon who,  in their book Career Development and Systems Theory, challenge us to develop approaches which, respond to our changing understanding of careers.

Why is a further model important?

Our ideas are based on ‘constructivism’ – that clients create meaning from experience. How we, as advisers affect this meaning is based on the questions we ask which are driven by our agendas.

Bill Law, who wrote a follow up article to the initial analysis (see references), identified the need for a clear independence of agenda (from influences which did not place the client first). He felt that this was more important for clients and that, impartiality was almost impossible to achieve. 

We wanted to find a way to include these crucial insights into our work and find ways to discuss our various agendas with our clients so, they owned the context in which they make decisions ,in the same way counsellors declare their methods before working with clients.  

Finally, we are under pressure as a profession to deliver to more students in less time; we wondered if there was a way to make our practice more flexible to achieve this, without compromising our professionalism and code of ethics.

What did we come up with?

Our initial model grew to be eight stages long which, from feedback from advisers , (trialling the model in different settings) was too unwieldy .We reduced it to a basic three stage (elastic) model, with each stage being flexible based on the needs of our client (or group of clients) and time constraints.The differences between a ten minute and forty five minute session, with one or five students is significant!.


Client expectations and adviser agenda(s) declared and agreed

Before we work, we need to check that our client(s) are happy to work within our agenda(s) and check  their expectations of the session . Are these realistic? Are assumptions being made? Are our clients happy to work this way?

If at this point we are stuck on our agendas, we should reflect and ask ourselves where we base our practice.

Our agendas form the basis of any challenge or question so, we need to identify those which are client-centred (e.g. raising aspirations) and those which are non-client centred (e.g. filling up a course quota). If at any point we stray into the latter, we know that we are no longer placing our clients first.

Tony Watts has identified some of the agendas that different advisers take ‘Radical, Liberal, Conservative and Progressive’ in Rethinking Career Education and Guidance; in contrast Bill Law has identified ‘Philosophies for Careers Work’ which, is another way to consider our agendas.(See references).

Depending upon which you subscribe to, these inform our questions which, affect the outcome of a client’s decision; they define our ‘transparent partiality’ (Tristram Hooley).

Yet, we pride ourselves on being impartial, so how to resolve this dilemma? Our CDI Code of Ethics helps with this, as we are asked to ‘declare anything which affects our impartiality’ which, as an approach informs the first stage of our model.

We can declare our agenda(s) in a client-friendly way, for example: “Part of my work is to explore with you what else is possible… is this ok?” or “I am here to help you look at local opportunities... is this ok?”

It is how we phrase our agendas to clients which, our research is now considering.

Through this first stage in our model, we enable clients to own the context they are making decisions within, by exploring this and their own expectations of the session.


Explore and prioritise needs for both (or all) parties; agree approach within context

Once we have agreed how we are working together, we can explore other contextual influences further, to see what may be possible and what our constraints maybe (e.g. if limited by time at a parents’ evening).

Our exploration of these influences is contextualised by our agendas; clients will know why we are asking questions (having agreed to this) with the work being done with, not to the clients. 

From this, needs are identified and prioritised (being mindful of oppressive practice or leading).

Once this is done, methods can be discussed and agreed, with the approach fitting the problem; whether narrative or trait and factor or a combination. Throughout, we remain mindful that needs change so, it is important to ‘check in’ with the client throughout the session.


Review and reflect

Finally we need to check whether we have been successful; have we achieved what we set out to do? If we haven’t, we need to explore what needs to happen next, whether a further meeting or finding support elsewhere.

For example, if you only had ten minutes at a parents’ evening with a client and would not be seeing them again (due to contract arrangements), your client may not be aware of the wider implications of their choices unless you signposted to these issues.

No longer do we have the luxury of ‘picking them up later’ in some settings, as professionals we need to take responsibility and use the wider systems around us to support our clients.

What are we doing next?

Our model is adaptable, suitable for one-to-one interviews, parents’ evenings or small group sessions. It is driven by the principle of open and transparent practice, ensuring the agendas which drive us are independent of political or organisational influence, placing the client first without deception or coercion through ulterior motives.

As an organisation we are taking the model on wider trials and plan to develop our ideas further, if you would like to be involved in these trials please contact


The Open Partnership Model (OPM) 1.3 


Client expectations and adviser agenda(s) declared and agreed

“Are we happy to work this way?”

These define our partiality and provide context for session



Explore and prioritise needs for both (or all) parties; agree approach within context

More than one client in session, time given, frequency of interviews



Review and reflect

Review and reflect against both (or all) parties requirements.

“What needs to happen next?”



CDI Code of Ethics (2012)

Hooley T. (2009) The politics of guidance, 

Hooley T. (2011) Close encounters of the guidance kind in space,

Law B. (2011) Philosophies for careers work – what do we mean by ‘careers work’? and, anyway, who are ‘we’? https://www.c

Law B. (2013) What’s the use of impartiality?

Patton W. and McMahon .M. (2006) Career Development and Systems Theory, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers

Watts A.G. et al (1996) Rethinking Career Education and Guidance, London: Routledge

Chris Targett is a careers adviser working for CXK.Ltd in a variety of secondary schools in Kent


Chris Targett
22:08 on 17 October 2014 (Edited 22:12 on 17 October 2014)

Embedded Content

Explanations and Explorations: October 2014

Explanations and Explorations: October 2014

added by Chris Targett

OPM and Egan's Three Stage Model

OPM and Egan's Three Stage Model

Accessible Alternative
added by Chris Targett

Open Partnership Model: In practice.

Open Partnership Model: In practice.

Accessible Alternative
added by Chris Targett


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