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RESPECT for Wise Owl Trust


Wise Owl Trust have launched their new RESPECT curriculum across the Trust to great delight of the children and staff.
Wise Owl Trust have worked in partnership with Commando Joe’s to rehaul their curriculum and bring it into the 21st century to prepare our children for life beyond school. The RESPECT curriculum is the first of it’s kind, focusing on the character traits and life skills that a young person will need to draw upon as they go through life.
A combination of educational expertise from Wise Owl Trust and the military knowledge and approach from Commando Joe’s has resulted in an outstanding curriculum that enthuses and engages our children.
Lessons have been transformed into Missions, and now no mission is impossible across the Trust! Resilience is key and is taught to our children across all year groups. Strategies to self-regulate are taught in the face of adversity and mistakes are taught to be lessons rather than disappointments.

Pens and pencils have been made redundant as the children venture through their missions using cargo nets, barrels and a host of other equipment. The children embark upon inspirational journeys of explorers such as Ed Stafford, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and many more. Working in teams, the children must use their creativity and problem-solving skills to complete a series of missions, putting their character to the ultimate test. Will teams work well together? What behaviour traits have been tested: Resilience, Empathy, Self-Awareness, Positivity, Excellence, Communication, Teamwork?

The basic skills of Maths and English are taught throughout the morning sessions then practically applied throughout the afternoon missions. Fractions, ratio and proportion are no longer boring and mind-puzzling. Not when you need to apply your knowledge of ratio and proportion to calculate the amount of antidote required to save one of your team mates after being stung by a deadly spider in the Amazon rainforest. Learning your spellings is fun and definitely necessary to battle through some of the challenges in order to send signals to others part of your team guiding them to safety! Missions even spill over into homework, with family members helping children to make Roman shields, mountain ranges, model rainforests, model aeroplanes and much more!

Key Stage One have an exciting programme of topics written to introduce the RESPECT curriculum to children as young as five! After exploring the crime scene left by the Big Bad Wolf, the children must help the 3 Little Pigs to design and build a new, safe home. It is then put to the test! Do the children have the resilience to be put through the test with the ability to self-regulate when facing disappointment? Are the teams able to work together to choose suitable building equipment? In another mission, the children’s problem solving skills are really put to the test when they need to work as a team to transport porridge to help the Three Bears! How will the teams communicate effectively to be successful in this challenge and use their problem solving skills to choose the correct equipment?

Key Stage Two experience the journeys of explorers like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Ed Stafford, Nancy Wake and Amelia Earhart. Lessons transport the children to a snowy mountain or dangerous ravine. Each mission is carefully designed to apply the character traits of the RESPECT curriculum (Resilience, Empathy, Self-Awareness, Positivity, Excellence, Communication and Teamwork).

Throughout a child’s school career we track and record their achievements using the COJO online judgement tool. Self-assessment and peer-assessment is crucial to promote a clear understanding of the character traits, their meaning and how personal improvements can be made. It is this enhanced self-awareness and understanding of others that is embraced and enhances emotional intelligence. Children have the opportunity to reflect upon their learning, referencing back to their ‘Mission Brief’, making personal judgements on the character traits they have displayed, what improvements they could make next time and how they felt during their learning. Personal records are documented in ‘Top Secret Mission Books’.

The ethos of the RESPECT curriculum is not limited to the classroom; instead it permeates throughout all academies within the Wise Owl Trust. Staff even have their own ‘Top Secret Mission Books’ and are encouraged to self-reflect. Participation in missions is a must for all staff and teambuilding sessions are on the calendar each year! Some would say that the children are better problem solvers than the adults!

Wise Owl Trust has worked extremely hard to develop such an innovative and fresh way to teach with its partner Commando Joe’s. The impact has been phenomenal, with progress measures in Reading and Maths putting Briscoe Lane Academy within the top 5% of schools nationally. Old Hall Drive Academy, with a history of being at the bottom of the league tables for results, is now above national for Reading, Writing and Maths combined. Seymour Road Academy was transformed, moving from Special Measures to Good with an Outstanding Early Years within 2 years. Our approach has been that successful that we now have a Commando Joe working full time in each of our academies.

Acting Principal, Debbie Frater, believes that the new approach to the curriculum will have a huge impact across all classrooms.

Sophie Murfin, Executive Principal said, “Children that have previously been disengaged in their learning have been reignited and inspired. Mondays have become Mission Mondays and they are the perfect start to the learning week, not just for the children but also the staff!”

Chris O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Wise Owl Trust, described our new RESPECT curriculum as, “Transformational to the life chances of our children, preparing them for future challenges.”

As if that isn’t enough, we have gone one step further! We have started our very own intervention for children with Social and Emotional Difficulties, named Team Up, led by a qualified teacher supported by Commando Joe’s and Teaching Assistants. The outcomes have been life changing for some children both in school and at home, with some children not wanting to leave Team Up! Feedback from parents, carers, children, staff and visitors has been astounding and beyond anything possibly imagined. Working on the RESPECT curriculum in the same way as children in the mainstream academies has meant that reintegration has been an easier process for the children. The comments from the children during their daily ‘compliments’ sessions have been heart-melting for all. Read more about Team Up and their amazing work on the Team Up website.

So what’s next? Wise Owl Trust will continue to innovate and inspire our children by learning through ‘challenge, collaboration and character’ and as the original Trust to develop the curriculum will promote its awareness to reach thousands more children, giving them the opportunity to enjoy learning and gain the skills they need to have a successful future. To transform your curriculum and roll out this programme visit