Joe Wicks defends decision to pull five-year-old daughter out of school

The celebrity fitness coach faced criticism from fans last month when he announced his eldest child is now being homeschooled

Ellie Muir
Friday 01 September 2023 05:41 BST
Joe Wicks hosts Glastonbury workout session

Celebrity fitness coach Joe Wicks has addressed his decision to pull his five-year-old daughter out of her first year at school to educate her at home.

Wicks, who is best known for becoming “the nation’s PE teacher” by delivering virtual workout classes to millions of people in the Covid-19 lockdowns, told his Instagram followers in July that he was taking his five-year-old daughter Indie out of school to “spend more time” as a family.

The fitness guru faced criticism from some of his 4.6 million Instagram followers, who called the move “wrong” or “selfish”.

Speaking in a new interview with The Times, Wicks – who also shares Marley, three, and 11-month-old Leni with his wife Rosie – defended the decision to remove his eldest from school.

“It’s not like I’m saying, I’m going to homeschool my kids and go and live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. It’s really just about our lifestyle [now],” he said.

Wicks added that the decision to take Indie out of her reception class was not permanent. Instead, the 37-year-old said he wants to have “another year” with his family and make the most of their time together.

“I don’t want to be someone who isn’t present in my children’s life,” he added. “What I try and give my children is stability and love, and I want them to know I’m always there for them.”

Announcing the decision back in July, Wicks told his followers that Indie had a “great year” in reception – the initial year of primary school – but that and his wife Rosie “have always loved teaching the kids at home and want the freedom to travel more and explore the world”.

Recently, they have travelled to Australia and Singapore as a family and also spent time at their second home in Santa Monica, California.

“[Indie] might go to school next year. We have no idea long term but want to do at least a year of home educating,” Wicks said in July.

Joe Wicks and Indie photographed in 2020
Joe Wicks and Indie photographed in 2020 (PA)

In the UK, most children start full-time school in the September after their fourth birthday, meaning they turn five during their first school year. Meanwhile, in other places, like Sweden or Australia, children start school a year later, aged six.

Figures published in May by the Department for Education showed an increase in the number of children being home educated in England, with local authorities reporting that there were an estimated 86,200 children in elective home education at the census date in Spring term 2023. This marked an increase from the estimated 80,900 children in elective home education in Autumn term 2022.

Wicks has previously said that he limits the time his children spend on screens and doesn’t allow his children to use phones or iPads.

He said: “They do watch Disney or Netflix on TV but don’t know how to use a phone and don’t have an iPad… They read write and speak well because it’s all they’ve ever known.”

“They don’t miss iPads or screen time because they’ve never had it. One thing I’m most proud about with my kids is how friendly, open, chatty and confident they are with new people.

“Most days we look round and Indie and Marley are off making friends with other adults in restaurants or by the pool cracking jokes. Their personalities are not an accident. They are a product of their surroundings and the stimulation they get every day.”

Wicks’s career was transformed in lockdown when his virtual workouts gained millions of views and he set a Guinness World Record for most watched fitness workout live stream on YouTube. Since then, he has expanded his Body Coach brand, published a cookbook and has received an MBE.

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