Joe Wicks defends taking daughter, 5, out of school: Why is learning at home on the rise?

Joe Wicks, who has shared plans to home school his daughter. (Getty Images)
Joe Wicks has revealed plans to home school his daughter. (Getty Images)

Joe Wicks has shed more light on his decision to home school his five-year-old daughter after revealing plans to take her out of traditional education.

Earlier this year, the celebrity fitness coach shared the family's hopes to "travel more" and spend more time together as a family.

As well as their eldest daughter, India, the personal trainer, 37, and his wife, Rosie, 31, also have a three-year-old son Marley and welcomed their third child, Leni, in September.

Hinting he had received some criticism since announcing the move to home educate on Instagram, Wicks said the decision felt right for his family now. "It’s not like I’m saying, I’m going to home school my kids and go and live on a farm in the middle of nowhere," he told The Times. "It’s really just about our lifestyle [now]."

Wicks added that home schooling his eldest might not permanent, but stemmed from a desire 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."

Joe Wicks and his wife Rosie have three children together. (Getty Images)
Joe Wicks and his wife Rosie have three children together. (Getty Images)

Home schooling - a divisive issue?

  • Numbers of home-educated students have jumped by 40% since 2018, Freedom of Information requests reveal, with COVID-19 potentially a factor.

  • In the 171 local authorities that provided data, there were 81,250 children learning at home in 2022 compared to 57,531 four years ago, before the pandemic.

People choose to home school their children for a number of reasons, according to Dr Nick Smith, principal at Oxford Home Schooling. "It could be because the student has special educational needs, has been bullied at school, or has other interests, such as sport, that make traditional education impractical," he says.

“Home schooling allows families to spend more time together, developing the parent-child bond, and gives students the kind of one-to-one attention that can sometimes be lacking in a school environment."

Read more: Katie Price says her 9-year-old son hasn't been to school for nearly a year, Yahoo Entertainment UK, 3-min read

But there are other reasons parents cite for not wanting to home educate their children.

In a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research, over a quarter of parents cited socialisation as a worry when it comes to home schooling.

Parents also often have concerns that being taught at home could limit their child’s exposure to social situations with others of different ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures.

Other potential considerations include financial costs, stress and the need to be an "expert" in many educational areas.

How to home school in the UK

Notify your child’s school

While you do not need to ask permission to home educate from either your child’s school or your local authority, you must let the school know in writing.

"If you are removing your child from a special school, then you are also required to inform the local authority," Greg Smith, head of operations at home education provider Oxford Home Schooling says.

"Some councils will provide guidance and free course materials. Occasionally they will also make informal enquiries to make sure your child is getting a sufficient education, so be ready to provide evidence such as work samples or reports."

Since the pandemic more children are being home educated. (Getty Images)
Since the pandemic more children are being home educated. (Getty Images)

Consider how long you’re planning on home schooling

Smith says some parents may want to trial home schooling for a few months, before returning their child to mainstream education.

"If this is the case, you should definitely choose a provider or system that closely follows the national curriculum," he adds.

"One of the benefits of home schooling is that parents have flexibility with the content they teach, but if there's chance that the children will go back to school in the future, you should not deviate too much from the standard syllabus.

"This will make it easier for your child to readjust should they eventually decide to return to school."

Identify the best teaching style for your child

If your child is over five, you are legally obliged to provide a full-time education, but you can decide what that involves.

"Every child learns at their own pace and in their own way and the beauty of home schooling is that you can cater your teaching to complement this," Smith explains.

"Some home school students respond best to structured learning, with timetables and routines, while others will thrive in a less rigid environment."

Watch: A mum who had nine children in six years is expecting her tenth child - and says the family spend £1.3k on their monthly food shop and love home-schooling their brood.

Think about logistics

Consider who will be doing the majority of the home schooling and whether they can devote enough time to make it effective.

"Consider sharing teaching responsibilities with your partner, a family member or someone else from the home schooling community," Smith advises.

Alternatively, you could home school on an evening or a weekend, or think about changing your work shifts.

There has been a rise in the number of children who are home schooled. (Getty Images)
There has been a rise in the number of children who are home schooled. (Getty Images)

Tap into the home school community

By checking out your local group's Facebook page.

"These communities are always willing to welcome new members and answer questions, so it's a good idea to check in before you commit to home education," Smith advises.

Take breaks

A bit of experimentation should identify what works best for you and your child.

"You might find 30-minute blasts followed by 10-minute breaks help to keep your concentration up. Alternatively, you might prefer to work for longer periods at a stretch and then enjoy a longer break," Smith says.

"Boring as it might sound, giving your learning a predictable structure and routine does help to make sure you get everything done!"

You can get help with home education from your local council.