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15/06/2017

Solihull Observer: Survival lessons for Smith’s Wood Primary School pupils

COMMANDO skills are on the timetable as pupils from Smith’s Wood Primary School embark on lessons in adventure and survival.

The school has enlisted the expertise of Armed Forces veterans Commando Joe’s to teach pupils from as young as four years old about teamwork, communication, excellence and resilience.

Resident ‘Commando Joe’ at Smith’s Wood is Dan Pegler, a former Royal Marine who toured Afghanistan and trained in Europe and America.

Before joining the company in 2014, Dan spent five years in the Marines, based at 42 Commando in Plymouth.

He now uses his life skills and experience to inspire a generation of children to succeed.

Based in the school every Friday, Dan uses mental and physical tasks to build character and key life skills that pupils need to thrive.

Dan said: “Working with young people is fantastic.

“Everything I learned in the military has proved useful in my role at Smith’s Wood, as we consistently focus on teamwork and helping one another.

“Before I became a Marine I’d always thought about going into teaching, so working in schools as ‘Commando Joe’ is really rewarding.”

This is Dan’s third year supporting teachers at Smith’s Wood, by offering classroom support, reward days, pupil mentoring and motivational assemblies.

Deputy headteacher Danielle Givens says: “We initially brought Commando Joe’s in to help with pupil behaviour, but Dan has gone way beyond the call of duty. He is like a permanent member of staff – teachers love him, children love him.

“Dan focuses on behaviour, attendance, even fine motor skills which some reception children can struggle with. He fits into our whole school ethos and delivers exactly what we need.

“He has built up a real rapport with the children. He eats with them at lunchtime, runs the breakfast club and delivers assemblies where he gives out the Commando Joe Bear to the most deserving pupil.

“If he sees someone having a bad day, he pulls them to one side and will chat to them about it. He always takes that initiative.

“We aim to give the children in our school opportunities which incorporate core learning subjects, along with wider opportunities.

“We aim to nurture every child in the wider sense, which is why we have sports apprentices, specialised music teachers, as well as school counsellors. Dan’s role in helping to nurture our pupils is invaluable.”

Commando Joe’s is a team of veterans from across the armed forces who have retrained to work in schools all over the country offering mentoring and classroom support.