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As an NVQ, this Diploma is for those who are in a Senior role with the authority to write a strategy for their area of responsibility. Some assume this means they must be either a business owner or working at Director level and this isn’t always the case.

I do in fact have those who are ‘on the cusp’ from a level 5 Manager but are given a lot of responsibility and authority over their own Department.

So far in the decades I have been delivering on this I have assessed :

Senior Leaders in the NHS / Military / Government Departments.

Private Business owners / Directors

CEOs and founders of charities

Senior Operational Managers

All to name a few.

I can also find a diversity of industry sectors as the Diploma is set around Leadership and Management this bleeds into any industry and I often have days where one support call I’m chatting to an NHS Manager, the next the MOD, then a Bank Manager and next a Project Manager who shuts down power plants.

You can imagine I have learnt a lot over the years about various sectors and how they operate.

I have written this article to help those interested in this qualification understand the content and requirements of The Diploma and you will find in later blogs I progress though the units explaining how to complete criteria.


The units are modules of subject areas, some generic, some specialised but we always start with the 3 Mandatory units.

700/ML57 Develop a strategic business plan

701/ML58 Execute a strategic business plan

702/ML67 Provide strategic leadership and direction

Theres no getting out of these and I will say that if the delivery model is done well then these units form the backbone of the Diploma that allow the rest of the optionals to flow from.

In later blogs I will discuss our model which merges the mandatory units into 1 assignment to give the content more flow and meaning.

Within each unit there are learning outcomes such as in the example below:

700/ML57 Develop a strategic business plan

LO1. Understand the principles underpinning the development of a strategic business plan

LO2. Be able to prepare for business strategy implementation

LO3. Be able to develop plans to deliver the business strategy

I will say in my model I don’t much use the Learning outcomes but instead focus on the criteria coverage for each outcome (LO) such as below example:

700/ML57 Develop a strategic business plan

LO1. Understand the principles underpinning the development of a strategic business plan

1.1 Evaluate a range of strategic planning theories and models.

1.2 Analyse the principles of resource management.

1.3 Evaluate the principles of capital investment appraisal

1.4 Evaluate the role of stakeholders in the development of strategic business plans and explain how to involve them

1.5 Explain how to involve stakeholders in the developments of strategic business plans

Half the battle is deciphering what it is you are being asked to do but don’t panic if you see a list of criteria and don’t know where to start. I will be breaking it down into English in later blogs so you can put in context but also in a clever way that ensures the best use of a Learners time.

So there are 2 aspects of this Diploma you need to consider.

Academic and Practice.

Firstly you need to be able to research models and theory and write about these either from a knowledge view or using real examples from applied practice.

Secondly you need to produce the evidence that show you have the capability to perform at level 7.

The NVQ is for those who not only can say they know their stuff but also that they can ‘do’ the job. This differs from the purely academic qualifications where you can complete assignments through ‘scenarios’ and so never have to prove experience in the role.

Level 7 requires some fundamental pieces of evidence and Ive listed a few below:

Use of models and techniques in Management and leadership

A written and real business strategy (the main document for the Diploma)

Evidence of delegation and allocation of resources

Policy development

Human resource planning

Stats and proof of benchmarking performance and how success is measured

Monitoring reports such as audits

Evidence of risk management such as registers and Business continuity plans

The list is exhaustive and can include official documents, emails, reports, stats, minutes of meetings and action plans.

Real work Evidence has an age requirement which can vary between 2 and 3 years. What we are looking for is to assess that competency is ‘current’ and so the best option is to submit documents that are a fresh as possible as the Diploma can take around 12 mths (some quicker, some slower)

Evidence also needs to be authentic so in its original format as much as possible and if it doesn’t have the Learners name on it then clarity needs to be given within the relating answer.

So lets talk about choice of provider / price / quality and duration.

Providers at Level 7 are limited compared to the lower levels and that’s due to the skill requirements of the Assessors marking your work. They must be at least equivalent to a 7 which would mean they also must be an experienced skilled leader / manager. Always check the credentials before handing over your hard-earned cash!

Price wise Level 7s do differ, remember this is the NVQ which is different to the standard level 7 Diploma which doesn’t have NVQ in the title. If you are asked for more than £2500 excluding VAT then raise an eyebrow. A successful NVQ provider will have a tried and tested model in place that should allow for a healthy profit under this price. That said, beware ‘cheap as chips’ as this could mean you are in for a long haul of poor support and no decent model in place meaning you are on programme forever and a day. Key here is to ask for a sample of the model or better still ask for a pre-chat with the supporting Tutor so you know what you are getting. On average look for around £1500 to £2500 for a reasonably priced course.

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Quality and duration – what should you expect? Well depending on the model the individual provider has developed you could be on course between 12 to 24mths. The awarding bodies typically allow a 3 year registration but this allows the provider to arrange extensions when needed. If it takes you 3 years then I would suspect you have either had some significant life events resulting in delays in study OR you haven’t had the support you needed. Some very experienced Managers can complete the Diploma super fast if the Assessor is willing to support this speed. My learner record to date is 2 months but she really went for it and I had to dedicate the same commitment to assess her work as it came in. On average I see completions between 8 to 10 months due to the particular model I have. Quality wise the support is normally uncapped so please make sure you check this because there are providers who will offer a certain amount of time uncapped and if you haven’t finished they then start to charge !! and this can not only add to your final cost but also to your stress levels trying to complete on time.

Ideally you need a comfortable 18mths completely uncapped support with a good model designed to get you through in 12mths. This then allows 6mths extra leeway for a breather should other things in life take over now and then.

Key is research, compare, take your time and make sure you are comfortable with the duration / price / support and model.

Keep checking in for my future blogs that help Learners understand and complete the Level 7.

For details of our Level 7 suite of qualifications please visit