St Joseph's School - A Catholic Voluntary Academy

Commando Joe's - 2019/2020

In Autumn 2019, we launched our new curriculum at St Joseph's.

A big part of our curriculum is based around the Commando Joe Missions.

In their classes, the children were shown a video, featuring Commando Joe Bear! He explained to the children that they needed to complete a mission - following a map and finding clues. All of the children were transformed into soldiers, and they took part in the mission. This finished in the hall where they worked together to solve the problem based on the clues they had found.

The children explored the resources in the Commando Joe ‘Secret Mission’ Box.

Please see the introduction slides the children shared below.

Commando Joe Assembly Launch

All of the children from Year 1 to Year 6 took part in the Commando Joe launch assembly. They had to follow a map to find clues to bring along with them. Each class could not be seen or heard as they went ‘undercover.’ They all worked together to crack the code. They also looked inside the box of equipment, using their imagination to think of what the items could be on various missions, such as the skipping rope being a snake and the hoops being a safety spot. The children also watched a video clip from the founder of Commando Joe to understand the missions more. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and could not wait to start their first mission back in class!

Missions From Spring Term 2020

Year 1

Friday 17th January 2020

Mission 1

Year 1 had to help little red riding hood find a safe way to cross the woods, to give grandma her food. They used benches as a bridge so that the wolf wouldn't eat them and pretended the balls were food that needed to reach grandma safely. They had great fun and worked really well as a team and demonstrated resilience if things went a little wrong! 

Mission 3

The children had to work as a team to complete the obstacle course, following a Jack and the beanstalk theme. 

Year 2

Monday 13th January 2020

Mission 1: ‘Panic only makes things worse’


The year is 1666 and a fire has started at the King's Bakery on Pudding Lane. It is spreading quickly and many people have had to evacuate their homes. In 1666, there weren't fire engines like we have today with water on board ready to put out the fire. We need to get water from the River Thames to the fire as quickly as possible and extinguish the flames.


We worked together as a team to transport water from one bucket to another. We had to travel through an obstacle course, this made the job even more difficult. We could only use our hands to carry the water.


We showed communication skills by making a plan of action and a strategy for the best way to move with the water through the course.


We really enjoyed completing the mission. Our teamwork skills have improved a lot. We talked to each other and cheered each other on.

Monday 3rd February 2020

Mission 2: You don't fight fire with fire. You fight fire with water.


The flames of the fire are spreading very quickly and we must work together to control the fire. As the flames increase in ferocity we must use our water supplies to push them back. Teamwork will be crucial if you are going to be successful in controlling the flames.

We got split into two groups, these were based on house teams. Each team was given a name of flames or water. When we went outside the coloured balls were on the opposite colour cones. Our first job was to put the balls on the same coloured cones. The balls and cones represent fire and water. We then had to put the balls on the opposite coloured cones to represent the spreading fire and the water being used to put the fire out.


We all enjoyed the mission because:

We got to have some exercise. –Maya

I liked doing it because it was challenging getting the balls to the cones. - Jenson.

When we had to put the balls on the cones, we had to be precise. – Lucas.





One of the biggest difficulties was the wind, it caused the balls to roll off the cones. – Isabel. This did represent the fire spreading. – Cara


We had to be really careful when we were putting the balls on the cones to make sure they were on properly. – Jenson N


What went well:

Both teams succeeded in their mission.- Calise.

It didn’t matter if there was a mistake along the way, we corrected it and continued going until we were successful.- Lucas

We all had to be involved and have a go, this helped with teamwork.- Isabel

Monday 2nd March 2020

Mission 4: You should always put your safety first.


Unfortunately, the fire has now completely burnt down our houses and we have been left homeless from the fire with only the possessions we managed to pack. We have identified a location to build ourselves a temporary shelter so that we are safe for the night, but it is on the other side of the River Thames!


Can you safely get your family across the river?


How successful was your team?

All teams were successful at getting across the river.

Team one managed to get across first, with only one person falling in once.

Team three made it across second followed by team two.


Did you listen carefully to each other and not shout?

Yes we did. Everyone did well at working as a team and put great effort in.

Team one had great communication.


Did you need to revise your plan at all?

Team one- listened to ideas and changed them if needed.


Did any of your team members touch the water?

How did this make you feel?

Team one- One of us touched the water and owned up to it. I was happy that the person had tried their best, it was just a mistake.

Team two- We were annoyed because it was the same person who was falling into the water and kept laughing when it happened. It stopped us from travelling across quickly.

Team three- We had to stop three times. It made us sad because some people were not thinking about where the mat was being placed.


What decisions did you make as a team?

  • How we were going to move the mat from one place to another.


Tuesday 17th March 2020

Mission 5: to successfully build a temporary shelter.


We have successfully made it to the other side of the river, however it is starting to get dark and we have nowhere to sleep tonight! Our only option it to build our own shelter. Embers are still burning throughout the town, so the shelter you build will need to be fireproof and large enough for the whole team.

We worked in groups to build a den for safety. We had to use a cargo net, but could choose what other resources we used to make the den. We had so much fun working as a team. Our team working skills have definitely improved!



Year 3

Mission 2 (Ed Stafford)

“Make every day count.”

The aim of this mission was to identify and pack effectively the right equipment to take to The Amazon.

Year 3 had to work in groups to locate food, water, medicine and other supplies around school using maps.

They had to decide which items were most vital, and which items were luxuries.


Which were the hardest decisions to make and how did you come to

an agreement?

We used democracy to decide who would be best suited to what role. We had to listen carefully to share ideas about which items were the most   important.

If you fail to prepare correctly, would the mission be a success?

No—we had to think carefully about timings, where we were going and what we needed to find.

Year 4

Tuesday 21st January 2020

Mission 1

For our first mission, the children were able to find out about the difference between the treatment of men and women in the past. Life was very difficult for Amelia Earhart when she was treated very different to her male counterparts. The children were given the experience of what this might have felt like, allowing the boys and the girls to compete in unfair situations and reflecting on how this might have felt.

Thursday 30th January 2020

Mission 2

For our second Commando Joe’s mission, the children made paper aeroplanes. They considered the flight across the Atlantic that Amelia Earhart had made and the preparation needed for this. They were then shown one design for a paper aeroplane which they followed, or they tried out their own designs. After working together on these, they were able to trial these out before making a second plane. They then used these outside, attempting to complete the crossing of the Atlantic.

Mission 3

For our 3rd mission, the children needed to work together to help a plane land safely, marking an ‘X’ for the plane to see. Once they landed, they needed to relay messages to ensure that medical support and engineering support was given. The children needed work with each other quickly and efficiently in order to be successful with this.

Mission 4.

For our fourth mission, the children had to work in teams to put a fire out. The children had to choose a method that they thought would be the most effective to transport the balls into a bucket. However, they needed to do this without getting too close. The children quickly found that by not rushing and working together, they were able to do this much more efficiently and effectively.

Year 5

Mission 1 (Ranulph Fiennes)

"If you want to go fast, you should go alone. If you want to go far, you should go together.”

The aim of this mission was for the class to appreciate the dedication, resilience and effort of individuals who make and break World Records. Inspired by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Year 5 set about attempting to break the current World Records set by Mike Powell (Long Jump), Usain Bolt (100 metres) and Dan Magness (Keepie-uppies). The class worked together in teams to encourage one another, and each team member was assigned a specific role to fulfil. To be successful in this first mission, the class had to show the key mission behaviour – resilience.


Why didn't we beat the World Records today?

We didn’t beat them because people who attempt World Records train for many years. They have a strong and supportive team to help them achieve their aspirations. They have to have talent and passion for what they do in order for them to keep going even when they are really being challenged.

What qualities do you think World Record breakers have to have?

The qualities they have are resilience because they will face setbacks, but they will not give up. They will have passion because it must be something they care about and want to do well in. Also, they will need to be able to work in a team because many people will help break the record.

Which of the Commando Joe characteristics did you show during this activity today?

We all showed resilience today because not one of us gave up even though it was really challenging. We also showed teamwork because we worked together to record scores and collect times.

Mission 2 (Ranulph Fiennes)

"Pick your team because of character, not skill.”

The aim of this mission was for the class to rescue a teammate. They had been transported (with Ranulph Fiennes) 600 miles from the South Pole, and treacherous conditions had meant that one of their snow tractors and the team doctor had fallen in a crevasse. The challenge of this mission was to rescue ‘the doctor’ without using their hands. The class had to demonstrate how effectively they could work as a team to create a pulley system that would save the doctor. Using only plastic cups, cones, string and elastic bands the class were successful in saving the doctor!


How successful were you in rescuing the doctor? Why do you think this is?

Year 5 though they were very successful in completing their mission because they all worked together. They agreed that the key to this mission being successful was to listen to one another’s ideas.

Which mission behaviours did you show today? How?

We feel we showed teamwork because we all worked together. We also showed resilience because when we tried everybody’s ideas, and they were unsuccessful, we kept going. We showed patience because we kept trying until we did it.

Which of the Commando Joe characteristics are you going to work on next time?

We think we need to continue to work on showing patience because it was frustrating when the elastic band kept coming off the cone.

What's more important, skill or character?

Character because if you didn't succeed you had people to encourage you.

Mission 3 (Ranulph Fiennes)

"We never know the worth of water until the well is dry.”

The aim of this mission was for the class was to prevent their vehicles from being destroyed. Year 5 joined Ranulph Fiennes in the blistering heat of the Sahara desert. Unfortunately, a sandstorm was raging and their vehicles had got stuck in the sand. Because of the extreme heat, the engines were at risk of over-heating. It was up to Year 5 to get water to their vehicles to cool their engines down. Using paper, masking tape and their base at the oasis, Year 5 had to communicate effectively to transport water to their vehicles. They had to navigate their way through the storm debris and avoid spilling a single drop of precious water. The teams that were most successful demonstrated excellent communication skills.


How successful were you in getting water to the over-heating vehicles? Why do you think this is?

Two groups were successful in transporting water over the bridge. The other groups lacked communication, therefore they weren't as successful. Every group managed to transport at least a drop of water.

Which of the Commando Joe characteristics are you going to work on next time?

We are definitely going to work on how effectively we communicate with each other to ensure that everyone’s views and opinions are heard. Also, we will improve our team working skills so that everyone feels included in the mission.

What is the value of water?

Water is precious to us all it is invaluable. It keeps us alive and therefore, we should not waste it.

Mission 4 (Ranulph Fiennes)

“Cold is more dangerous than heat.”

The aim of this mission was for the class to use available materials to keep the team in an extreme environment alive. Year 5 had to work in small groups to design and make an igloo using sugar cubes and glue. Their job was to consider how they would make the curves, roof and provide enough space for their team members to be able to rest and survive. The aims of this mission was focused on teamwork and communication since during their last mission, this was an area the class said they needed to continue to work on.


How successful were you in creating your igloo? Why do you think this is?

Building the actual structure was a challenge. Some of the groups struggled with making a curved structure, some of us forgot the structure would need a roof and one group thought they could use cardboard for the roof, which the mission commander did not allow. Although we found this challenge difficult, not one of the groups gave up!

Which mission behaviours did you show today? How?

Today we used lots of mission behaviours: communication, teamwork, resilience, patience and co-operation.

Do you think trying to survive in the cold is more dangerous than trying to survive in heat? What are the difficulties with each?

Yes because you need to build a shelter to keep you warm.

Somehow you need to make a fire.

You may need to try and keep cool when there is a lot of heat.

Heat can also cause fires.

Year 6

Wednesday 8th January 2020
Mission 1

Shackleton’s expeditions were expensive and he estimated that it would cost £50,000 (£4,327,000 in today’s money) to launch Endurance. For Year 6’s first mission, they had to try and raise vital funds to get the teams under way. The class were split into different teams and they had to demonstrate that they could cross an enormous river (to impress a wealthy man). If the class weren’t able to handle a river, how would they manage the Antarctic? The children were successful with the river crossing, but were they successful at raising the vital funds? Stayed tuned for Mission 2 to find out.

Thursday 6th February 2020

Mission 2

After being successful in Mission 1, Year 6 were finally ready to start their expedition! As they set sail, there were multiple people living in a very confined space. In mission 2, explorers were required to keep their ship spotlessly clean to avoid illness and ensure that food rations were fully stocked. The children had to decide whether some resources were more suitable than others.

The children were successful in stocking their ships and keeping them clean, but what will happen when their ship gets stuck in the ice? Stay tuned for Mission 3!

Missions From Autumn Term 2019

Year 1

Wednesday 6th November 2019

Mission 2

Aim: To work as a team to identify a safe passage through a river so that Nala can return to Pride Rock. 


Did you work well as a team?

Jan – “We worked well when people swam fast across the river but not when people were being selfish and waiting so that other team members could not get across in time”.

How could you have worked better as a team?

Emelia – “We could have worked better as a team by building things together like building a bridge.”

Jonah – “We could have worked better as a team if one person in the group distracted the hungry crocodiles so that the other team members could help Nala cross the river, then we wouldn’t all get eaten.”

What would have made it easier to cross the river?

Maja – “We should have built things like a wooden bridge”

Finley – “We could have built a boat if we worked hard enough as a team. That would be a safe point for us.”

Year 2

Monday 7th October 2019

Mission 1: ‘Family is more than important, it’s everything.’

Brief: The English are coming! You must protect the children in the tribe by getting them to safety. Make a sling then navigate through the forest to reach the other tribe.


Were there any casualties, injuries from bear attacks?

Yes there were- broken ankle, broken leg and a broken leg.

What worked well during the mission?

Child A- The sling that we made protected the baby and stopped the baby from falling out.

Child B- we worked well as a team especially crawling through the leaves.

Child C- I was checking that Lexi-Jane and the baby were ok when walking along the stepping stones.

How effective were communication skills?

Overall communication skills were effective, some tribes need to work on them to work even better as a team.

How could Native mothers have been even more successful during this mission?

Child D- The knot for the sling could be made tighter.

Child A- Make the baby more secure.

Child B- Think about the material we are using for the sling.

Monday 14th October 2019

Mission 2: ‘I never dreamed about success- I worked for it.’

Brief: Pocahontas returned to her tribe and at a young age began undertaking 'woman's' work. Whilst male Native Americans were out hunting, the girls and women maintained their village. They cooked, built, harvested crops, cleaned, and collected fire wood and anything else necessary for the comfort and survival of their tribe. In this mission, Pocahontas has harvested her crops and now needs to transport it back to the village to prepare.


How much food has made it back to camp?

Of the groups that were able to have a go (rained off) tribe one successfully brought back 20 pieces of food. Tribe two brought back 10 pieces of food.

What worked well during this mission?

Child A- All of tribe one survived.

Child B- Tribe two showed good team work.

Child C- Only one person was poisoned.

There was good communication between tribe members.

Child D- Tribe one showed great effort- resilience.

How effective were communication skills?

Child A- by communicating, it meant there were no injuries.

Child E- I like that tribe two communicated so they knew to wait for each other.

How could your team have been even more successful during this mission?

By being more careful at not rushing people wouldn’t have become poisoned. Next time, think carefully about how much we are carrying so we do not drop food.

Monday 21st October 2019

Mission 3: ‘Everyone is equal, no exceptions.’

Brief: The arrival of English explorers in Virginia was not welcomed by all the Native Americans. The leader of the English, Sir John Smith, very nearly lost his life to the hands of Pocahontas' father! Luckily for Sir Smith, Pocahontas believed in peace and saved his life. In this mission, your teams will be split into Native Americans and English Explorers- will the explorers be successful in saving their captured comrade?


Was John Smith recaptured and returned back to safety?

Yes, in both groups, the Englishmen successfully recaptured and returned John Smith to safety.

Were any Englishman converted to tribesmen?

Yes a handful of Englishmen were tagged by the Native Americans.

What worked well during the mission?

Both teams succeeded in the mission.

How effective were communication skills? How effective was the teamwork? How could teams have been even more successful during this mission?

Teams 1 and 3- Part of our team wanted to talk and work out a plan of action, some members were ignoring this and working independently. If we did this again, to be more successful and effective with communication and team work we would: discuss and plan before setting off; not rush off and stay together and listen to each other.

Teams 2 and 4- In a way we worked well as a team and had good communication skills. We saw the Englishmen and just ran after them. If we did this again, would also would make a plan.

Monday 4th November 2019

Mission 4:

'It takes time to build bridges, but no time at all'

Brief: Following Pocahontas' declaration of peace, relations between the English and Pawhatan tribe improved and the Natives began providing food and resources to the English. This act of generosity saved the English from starvation and Sir John Smith was extremely grateful for the tribes help. During this missions, your Natives will construct a bridge strong enough to hold containers of crops and freshly killed livestock. Any falling crops will be a huge waste and chief Powhatan will NOT be happy!


Did the bridge with stand the weight of the food? Why?

Yes some did because the bridges were flat on the table.

Did the team work together to create a successful structure?

Some groups worked well together even though the structure wasn’t successful.

Some groups didn’t work well together because they didn’t listen to each other or work as a team.

Did each team create the same ‘style’ bridge?

Most groups created bridges that were flat along the table.

If unsuccessful, did the team know what went wrong and what can be improved?

The bridge on the edges were too curvy.

The other bridge wasn’t quite wide enough

Monday 11th November 2019

Mission 5:

'’Water is life’

Brief: As time passed, the English became greedy and demanded more and more crops. Sir Smith visited the tribe to ask for more food and discovered that much of their land had been devastated by drought. Many of the Native American's had died from dehydration and the crops had not survived. In this mission, teams will transport fresh water from the English base to the tribe- it's a race against time and vital that no more lives are lost.

Children worked in their tribes to transport the water (balls) from one bucket to another. They showed great team work and communication. It was great to hear children say it was their favorite mission so far!

Year 3

Wednesday 2nd October 2019

Commando Joe Launch


We had to stop our lessons today to complete an emergency mission!


We had to work as a class to follow a map to crack a code.


We snuck through school and followed our map. It led us to the Year 5/6 corridor.


Then, we had to find some letters! We took them to assembly along with the rest of the school.


When we put all of our letters together, they spelt:

Commando Joe’s




Tuesday 15th October 2019

Commando Joe Mission 2

The most important part of working as a team is being kind and

taking turns. We have to encourage our team mates to work together.

We also need to listen carefully to each other.


This would have helped Spartacus and his army to defeat the

Romans in battle because they would have worked together as a team to overcome challenges.


When we work together things are easier because we can help each other. We spoke about unity meaning working together and agreed it is showing a strength.


Tuesday 19th November 2019

Commando Joe Mission 4

I found it very hard to be quiet so that we didn't get found out.

Some of the groups did take it in turns and worked well as a team.

I used  will power and positivity as well as perseverance.

Yes, because we had to work in a team to get food for all of us.

Yes, because the harder we worked, the more food we got to eat. Which makes us stronger.


Year 4

Commando Joes – Year 4

In Year 4, the children have completed 2 missions involving travelling. They have had to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in their teams, sticking together to avoid numerous obstacles on their journey.

As well as this, the children needed to return home through a storm. This involved one child being blindfolded whilst their partner guided them over, through, under and around various objects. Alongside this, they had to persevere while various crashes were happening around them as objects fell over. They then swapped roles to ensure their partners could make the same journey.

Throughout these, the children have had to use different skills including self-discipline, courtesy, self-control, determination, honesty and compassion. They were able to reflect sensibly afterwards about which of these they were able to use effectively and which they still need to improve upon.

Mission 3

The children in Year 4 had to imagine they had arrived at a new place only to discover their road was blocked by a wall of ice. They had to work together closely to dismantle the wall together, thinking carefully about the order that they did this.

Year 5

Mission 1 (Nellie Bly)

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

The aim of our mission was to appreciate that navigating a route around the world is a dangerous task for any fearless adventurer. Year 5 had to understand that every great traveller needs a map before they set out, and it was their job (using the provided materials) to create a scale-map of the world. Our key goals for this activity were that we could work as a team, consider our role in the team and show the mission target behaviours (courtesy, honesty, gratitude, self-discipline, determination, kindness and self-confidence).


After the first mission was completed, Miss Vickers spread the mission target behaviour words around the classroom. She asked us to go and stand at a word that we thought we had shown during our first mission.

Mission 2 (Nellie Bly)

"It takes both sides to build a bridge."

The aim of this mission was to appreciate that building a bridge can be both a physical skill and an emotional skill to develop. In this mission, the class were transported back to 1889, and they followed Nellie Bly to London. Whilst there, they witnessed the Tower Bridge under construction. Being budding engineers, Year 5 wanted to offer their services to the build. Year 5 had to work in groups, plan a design for their bridge, stick to the budget and equipment provided and work as a team. Our mission focus was to demonstrate a positive mind set in the face of possible challenge.



How have you shown a positive mind set during this mission?


  • I received positive encouragement when I had an idea during the planning stage.
  • We showed maturity when realising their might not be enough materials for everyone to carry.
  • We listened to everyone's ideas.
  • We ensured that everyone was involved in the building process.
  • We showed pride in our creation and how we worked as a team!


If someone said you had constructed your bridge poorly, how would you respond?


  • Allow them their opinion, but disagree politely.
  • It might not be the best bridge yet, but I can improve it.
  • Ignore them.
  • We might point out something good about our design.


Have you ever 'built a bridge' (rebuilt a friendship) with somebody? Can you do it on your own or does it take both sides?


  • If you fall out, rebuild the bridge by showing kindness.
  • Learn to let things go.
  • Communicate more and get to know them.
  • Bridges have to be built from both sides.
  • When you build a bridge, it's like building a friendship.
  • Both people need to forgive each other to keep the foundations stable!

Year 6

Year 6 Commando Joe
Mission 2 and 3


In all aspects of day to day life, Nancy Wake was required to live a lie. The Year 6 children were integrated into society and must now create a cover story so that the Gestapo (Secret Police) don’t get suspicious. For mission 2, the children took part in a series of different circuit training sessions whilst attempting to remain undercover. At different points during the lesson, the Gestapo came to question the children. If their cover stories didn’t match up then they would be captured. During the de-brief at the end of the mission, the children had to reflect on whether they were able to maintain their circuit training and give their cover story. Some of our Year 6 children would make very successful spies.

Due to their competence, the Year 6 spies were drafted behind enemy lines to work amongst some of the Nazi’s most senior military personnel.  The children were ready for Mission 3. The Year 6 commander had located multiple pieces of key information that could change the course of the war, and it was the Year 6’s job to gather that information. Within their teams, they had to take part in different relay races to try and ‘win’ a piece of information. At the end of the Mission, the children were given a sneak peek inside one of the envelopes containing the information, but what would be inside? Find out in Mission 4.

Year 6 Commando Joe
Mission 4

After so much success with their previous missions, Year 6 were ready to receive their reward. Before their reward, there was a little bit of code breaking to be done first. During their last mission behind enemy lines, the children intercepted some topic-secret information. The children needed to de-code this information and decide whether it was important for stopping the war. We discovered envelopes containing Morse code, and the children had to uncover the meaning behind the dots and dashes. After working hard within their groups, we discovered that the German soldiers were heading for France.

During the de-brief we discussed that 80% of communication is non-verbal, and the children were able to talk over whether they found it difficult having to communicate without speaking.