No pain but all gain for boot camp students at Waterside

Date 10.07.2019

The value of great team work and communication has been highlighted this week at Waterside to more than 350 students from Northamptonshire schools as they finished a series of University organised character education sessions with veterans of the armed forces.

The secondary school students have been part of the NCOP* programme and since September last year, they have taken part in weekly workshops delivered by Commando Joe’s instructors which are designed to help with their interpersonal life skills and development.

As part of this programme, which finishes later this month, students visited Waterside campus to mark their successes and celebrate their hard work and dedication over the past year. Their day’s activities included:

  • Students and teachers took part in a session organised by their Commando Joe’s instructors encompassing the framework and key characteristics taught weekly which embodies the Commando Joe’s ethos which includes communication, team work, discipline, resilience and having fun
  • Students discussed possible career paths using interactive games such as top trumps cards and Pictionary
  • A campus tour with University student ambassadors in which the students visited various learning facilities across campus, seeing first-hand what a university has to offer.

Commando Joe’s is a national initiative – developed by a former armed forces member Mike Hamilton, OBE – that provides training activities for students to support their resilience, help them integrate with other people, help them to make better life choices, help them better engage with their education and become better versions of themselves.

The programme provides non-traditional ways of teaching and instruction, both indoor and outdoor utilising and building on their skills and social framework that the students already possess.

One example used during this week’s Waterside days included getting outdoors on the University’s all-weather pitch and taking part in a simple game of ‘Cards and Cones’ where the students picked a card within an area of cones and each card represented a challenge or physical exercise that they took part in.

Izzy, from Rusden Academy, said: “Commando Joe’s have really helped with my confidence, helping me to present and talk in front of a class. I’ve learnt that you don’t have to be perfect, you can make mistakes and people won’t judge you for them.”

Jane Watson, Senior Assistant Principal KSA, added: “Our students really enjoyed the day at University of Northampton where they had first- hand experience of what a University is like. Nearly half of them said they would consider going to university after today’s event, which is very encouraging.

“NCOP delivered an interesting session where students improved their knowledge on a range of careers through fun activities. This led to interesting discussions around pay, hours and workforce which really opened students’ eyes about what some jobs entailed.”

Rachel Hooper, NCOP Project Manager, “We are very pleased to be able to offer our partner schools this progressive and ongoing opportunity, through the NCOP programme.

“The impact Commando Joe’s has had on developing confidence, resilience and presentation skills as well as team work and attainment progress has been really pleasing. I know the students have enjoyed taking part weekly across this academic year and I am sure this will engage many in considering a higher education pathway.”

Find out more about the University’s Schools Engagement team and their work.

*National Collaborative Outreach Programme. The full list of schools visiting Waterside this week is:

  • The Abbeyfield School
  • Danetre and Southbrook Learning Village
  • The Duston School
  • Kettering Science Academy
  • Kingswood Academy
  • The Parker E-ACT Academy
  • Rushden Academy.