Learning in Action

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. Working 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!

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.

“I believe that the new approach to the curriculum will have a huge impact across all classrooms.”

Debbie Frater, Acting Principal

“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!”

Sophie Murfin, Executive Principal

“Our new RESPECT curriculum is transformational to the life chances of our children, preparing them for future challenges.”

Chris O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Wise Owl Trust

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 www.commandojoes.co.uk

Our Curriculum

Nursery - RESPECT

Introducing the core values of the RESPECT curriculum.

Nursery Topic Characters

Romeo Resilience
“I will keep trying!”

Eddie Empathy
“I know how you feel.”

Sophie Self-Awareness
“I understand.”

Parveen Positivity
“I can do it!”

Elliot Excellence
“I will do my best!”

Charlie Communication
“I will listen and share with everyone”

Tanisha Teamwork
“We will work together.”

Reception - Nursery Rhymes

Demonstrating the core values of the RESPECT curriculum through storytelling.

Nursery Topic Characters

Humpty Dumpty

If You’re Happy & You Know It

Incy-Wincy Spider

Jack & Jill

Row-Row-Row Your Boat

Three Blind Mice

Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star

Key Stage 1 - Inspirational People

The life journey of inspirational people have been chosen to be entwined with the National Curriculum to engage and enthuse even the most boring of lessons.

Year 1 Topic Characters

Simba & Me
“Circle of Life”

Traditional Tales
“Once Upon a Time”

Steve Backshall
“A Walk on the Wild Side”

Year 2 Topic Characters

Samuel Pepys
“London’s Burning”

“Trouble in the Tribe”

The Queen
“The Longest Reign”

Key Stage 2 - Heros & Heroines / Adveturers / Explorers

Year 3 Topic Characters

Ed Stafford
“Walking the Amazon”

Earnest Shackelton

Nellie Bly
“Around the World in 72 Days”

Year 4 Topic Characters

Bear Grylls

Kira Salak
“Gorilla in the Mist”

Leif Erikson
“Voyage of Discovery”

Year 5 Topic Characters

Tim Peake
“Blast Off”

Ranulph Fiennes
“Transglobe Adventures”

“Romans Revolt”

Year 6 Topic Characters

Nancy Wake
“The White Mouse”

Amelia Earhart
“Final Flight”

Ibn Battuta
“Eastern Odyssey”


Reading is central to everything we do in the Wise Owl Trust. We foster a love for reading throughout the curriculum. We do this by providing our children with opportunities to:

  • Access a range of high-quality texts to ignite and support learning throughout the RESPECT Curriculum.
  • Experience an inviting, engaging reading area in each classroom with a range of texts to read and enjoy.
  • Celebrate reading through fun, exciting activities as part of a curriculum enriched with visits, visitors and experiences such as World Book Day.
  • Listen to stories being read to them to inspire and motivate them to read for pleasure themselves.
  • Read at home through providing a range of texts for the children to take home and enjoy with their families and independently. Our main reading scheme is the Oxford Reading Tree and includes stories, non-fiction texts and poetry. In addition to a book from the scheme, our children are also able to take home books from a range of great authors to read at home such as Julia Donaldson, Jaqueline Wilson and Roald Dahl.

further details

Our children are taught the mechanics of reading through daily interactive phonics sessions which take place across EYFS and Key Stage 1 following ‘Letters and Sounds’. Within these sessions, our children have opportunities to learn, practise, apply, investigate and consolidate their skills in a range of engaging activities taught in small, streamed groups which are each tailored to the learning needs of the children.

Daily guided reading groups ensure that our Key Stage 1 children have opportunities to discuss texts, forming opinions and viewpoints. They are challenged with questions which extend their comprehension skills and understanding.

Whole class reading lessons are taught in Key Stage 2, using a variety of challenging and interesting texts from across a range of text types. Our children are taught to analyse these texts in greater depth, drawing evidence from the texts to support their viewpoints and becoming more critical of an author’s intentions. Our children further develop their vocabulary and learn to answer a range of questions with an increasing amount of detail and consideration.


Across the Wise Owl Trust, we believe that great readers become great writers and therefore our curriculum is enriched with high-quality, engaging texts. We provide our children with opportunities to:

  • Learn spelling, punctuation and grammar in exciting, interactive ways and to apply these skills across the curriculum.
  • Be proud of their presentation and handwriting through the award of pen licences and fountain pens.
  • Have experience of the full writing process, with opportunities to draft, edit and ‘publish’ their pieces of writing.
  • Write for a range of purposes and audiences.
  • Write in a wide range of text types including stories, non-fiction texts and poetry,
  • Celebrate their success and progress through awards and acknowledgement such as our ‘Writer of the Week’ certificate and end of term ‘Writer of the Term’ trophy.
  • Develop a wide-ranging vocabulary through exposure to high-level, broad texts.
  • Have regular, purposeful written and oral feedback about their work so that they can progress further.
  • Access a wide range of resources to enrich learning, such as ICT, dictionaries, thesauruses, word mats and purposeful classroom displays.

further details

The themed approach of our RESPECT Curriculum provides our children with real purpose for their writing and through being emerged in the topic they are learning about, they are able to apply their wide-ranging knowledge from across the curriculum to what they write. Using ‘Talk 4 Writing’ as a basis means that our children are never short of ideas when it comes to writing! They are taught to imitate, innovate and then invent their own texts with plenty of opportunities for collaborative group work and speaking and listening activities!


We want the children of our academies to become confident and critical mathematicians who are able to solve problems efficiently, applying them in real life contexts. We provide our children with opportunities to:

  • Develop good mental strategies, committing what has been learnt to memory.
  • Develop efficient methods of recording working in line with the academy’s calculation policy.
  • Develop the ability to work independently, selecting their own methods and resources needed to support learning.
  • Develop a love of maths through learning in a range of different ways.
  • Access a range of resources to support their learning,
  • Learn through real life scenarios, experiencing practical applications of maths.
  • Develop an accurate mathematical vocabulary to be able to share their thinking, describe strategies and learn from each other’s responses

further details

Through the RESPECT Curriculum, our children are provided with rich and varied opportunities to apply their mathematical knowledge. We believe that central to an ability to select and apply skills effectively is the need for a clear understanding of core mathematical skills. We separate these core skills into 4 main areas: Number, Shape & Space, Measure and Statistics.

Our curriculum overviews for years 1-6 can be downloaded via the links below:

Long Term Overview

Long Term Overview

Year 1
Long Term Overview

Year 2
Long Term Overview

Year 3
Long Term Overview

Year 4
Long Term Overview

Year 5
Long Term Overview

Year 6
Long Term Overview