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Primary school gives pupils commando lessons for the mind

A school is drafting in ex-military personnel to help teach resilience and mental strength to pupils amid concerns about the trauma and stress they have experienced during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Commando Joe's instructor Stuart Wilkinson putting pupils from Landywood Primary School, in Great Wyrley, through their paces

Landywood Primary School, in Great Wyrley, has enlisted the help of Commando Joe's to help their students – and also staff, who are facing extra pressures to keep themselves and pupils safe.

Commando Joe's places former soldiers in schools across the country to teach character building. Schools, including Landywood's headteacher Andrew Clewer, have contacted the company in a bid to host lessons on resilience, team building and coping strategies for stressful situations arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commando Joe's instructor Stuart Wilkinson with pupils from Landywood Primary School

Mr Clewer said: "As a leader in education at this time, it is extremely tough. I want the best for our pupils but also, I have to think about my staff and the community.

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"The staff have created a recovery curriculum that is aimed at settling the children and supporting their mental strength and building on their inner resilience so they will feel confident and secure at school. Landywood has always prided itself on having an innovative programme of activities and offering extra experiences and support to pupils, so they are confident learners who take risks and aren't afraid of not being able to do something at the first time of trying."

Commando Joe's is run by Mike Hamilton OBE, a former commando and bomb disposal expert who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said: "Being ex-military, our instructors have served our country in some extremely difficult and life-threatening situations.

Commando Joe's instructor Stuart Wilkinson with pupils from Landywood Primary School

"So they have that remarkable ability to stay calm under pressure, train a group of people from all walks of life in a short space of time and build a team ethos like no other organisation could. When it comes to this current crisis, we can be there to help pick pupils back up and rebuild their self-confidence and mental resilience.

"Children might seem to be coping OK on the surface with the lockdown and being out of school – but we are hearing from a lot of worried teachers, heads and parents about the trauma and stress they are displaying."