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What is Effective Guidance? Evidence from Longitudinal Case Studies in England

This first report is based on findings from the initial phase of data collection. Emphasis has been given to the identification of good practice together with the strategies and skills used by the guidance practitioners, so that issues can be raised relevant to the improvement of guidance practice.

In this research, ‘effectiveness’ has been defined as what the recipients of guidance (the clients) found useful. The majority (98%, n=49) who participated in the initial phase of this research evaluated their guidance interview as ‘useful’, immediately after the event.

Findings also indicated that guidance is useful to clients in supporting their transitions into and through professional learning and development when it: provides challenge and direction; gives access to relevant resources; can be accessed over a period of time; brings about positive change(s); and provides support and safety. The research highlights how some factors that influence the guidance process come from outside the immediate boundaries of the interview itself (e.g. availability of different types of resources for clients). Variations in the professional contexts within which guidance is delivered were found to be multidimensional and the circumstances in which much guidance is undertaken are unpredictable (e.g. whether a suitable interview room was available at the time it was needed). Any evaluation of in-depth guidance is, therefore, unlikely to be comparing like with like.

A typology of the guidance interview was generated from practitioner interventions across the forty-nine ‘useful’ interviews. Four discrete categories of activities emerged from a detailed analysis of the interview transcripts. These are: building a working alliance; exploring potential; identifying options and strategies; plus ending and following-through. Each category comprises between three and six sub-sets of activities. Not all activities of guidance are evident across all interviews, nor did any particular combination or sequence emerge.