Accipio + Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO): Strategic Leadership Academic Module

Senior leadership development programme | CMI Level 7 qualifications | Up to 900 participants

Providing CMI leadership qualifications for senior leadership globally.


The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is the UK Government department that promotes the UK’s interests overseas, supporting citizens and businesses around the globe. FCDO is a ministerial department, supported by 10 agencies and public bodies. They partnered with Accipio for the provision of CMI Level 7 qualifications.

FCO Main

The Challenge

When they approached us, the FCDO had no existing central learning platform. All development was self-directed but framed around promotion pathways. There were, therefore, huge numbers of diplomats requiring a more structured approach to their leadership development. There was also no accreditation linked to their existing leadership development programmes, leaving disgruntled those who did not gain promotion to senior positions after their interviews. They were initially looking for a provider to deliver the core components of the Diplomatic Academy Leadership Gateway Development Programme, which would be for approximately 900 senior diplomats, heads of missions and British ambassadors stationed around the globe.

What we did

We worked with the FCDO to design a strategic leadership programme aligned with an internationally recognised qualification in leadership and management from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

As part of the project we:

  • Deployed the FCDO Leadership site, a branded Moodle platform with an accompanying mobile application (for offline content).
  • Created a library of new eLearning modules to support their learning. Together, we identified key models and ideas and highlighted these.
  • Worked with the FCDO to identify specific development needs and choose two CMI modules that aligned with these (Strategic Leadership + Personal Development).
  • Framed the new option of obtaining a Level 7 CMI Certificate as a Master's-level qualification, which individuals could achieve regardless of promotion. This was initially included as part of the mandatory promotion framework but is now a separate, optional course–the Senior Leadership Academic Module (SLAM)
  • Sourced a former ambassador (Catherine Arnold OBE) as their lead facilitator/webinar tutor – gave further gravitas to the course and helped to contextualise the learning/relate it to key FCDO leadership challenges.
  • Allowed for the programme to be delivered entirely remotely, to counter their geographical challenges. It is structured with 6 webinars framed around 6 tasks/sub-tasks. Though each has a different topic, they build on ideas from previous sessions.
  • Aligned the course with Action Learning Sets and Coaching sessions provided by the FCDO.
  • Included forums in the site, to enable social learning and give the delegates a direct route to their facilitator/support team.
  • Ensured regular support via the assessors and our concierge.

Since its initial launch, we have continued to make improvements. These have included updating courses to new versions and redesigning the assignments, by breaking them down into smaller chunks, so that they fit better alongside their work and align better with the webinars.


The results

We have received wonderful feedback about the programme and the impact it is having around the world, with continued popularity and recommendations from previous cohorts. Indeed, we still get high registrations despite the programme no longer being mandatory.


Thanks to its virtual delivery, the programme allowed the FCDO to continue its leadership development throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.


13 cohorts have now been enrolled in the programme, with the learners exhibiting a near-100% pass rate, and well over 90% of participants saying they found the materials and content relevant and useful for their work.


Accipio is currently working with CMI to pilot new flexible assessments which will be part of the next iteration of the programme.