Joe Wicks Isn’t The PE Curriculum

Teaching unions are warning parents that they should rely on their school’s remote provision for PE rather than Joe Wicks.

Online fitness gurus such as Joe Wicks who dip their toes into the school curriculum are a menace because they can’t differentiate between PE and physical activity. Would you agree with that?

Although these celebs have delivered a bit of fun and silliness during a really challenging period in our lives, Stirrup et al (2020) from Loughborough University say that

……we must acknowledge the risks of such individuals taking centre stage, and must champion the significant role that qualified teachers play in providing meaningful and progressive learning through high-quality PE that recognises and meets the needs of all students.

The National Union of Angry, Narky and Cranky Educators (NUANCE) have advised parents to make sure they “get outdoors” rather than resort to carpet-based TV P.E. with celebs.

Trev Newington, General Secretary of the NUANCE says that the ‘Wicksification’ of the PE curriculum is “deeply concerning”.

Responding to the news that Joe Wicks will be doing his home-based PE workouts again from Monday, @trevsez reminded parents,

Joe Wicks isn’t the PE curriculum – he’s a bloke from Epsom, he’s not a qualified teacher and he doesn’t even wear the right PE kit. Fizz ed is so much more than jumping around like Spiderman.

Wicks, aka @thebodycoach, is “on a mission to make the world fitter, healthier and happier.”

During the first lockdown Joe started his ‘PE With Joe’ workouts on his YouTube channel and people lapped them up. These became so popular that a range of A-Z celebs started jumping about declaring their love for Joe too.

Joe has loads of supporters and thanks to livestreaming and social media many talk about him as if they know him personally.

Mum, Chloe Wishall, 26, is a massive fan and didn’t miss a single workout in 13 weeks of doing them with her 8 year-old twins Starship and Shipley.

Working out with Joe is brilliant! He makes it so much fun. P.E. was never like this when I was at school. Me and the girls love doing the workouts. He’s got really nice house too!

Mother of four, Suzy Wilkinson, 39, told us that Joe has been a life-saver:

Joe has been a big part of our lives everyday during lockdown – he’s part of the family now! We used to go out on long walks together but now we just all cram into the living room and argue. I don’t know what we would have done without his workouts.

Joe became something of a household name and national treasure during the first lockdown and it’s not uncommon now for people to say, “I’ve just done a Joe Wicks,” which is widely understood to mean that you have done some forward lunging in your living room dressed as a panda. This is why he got an MBE.

But Joe has attracted some opposition and some see him as slightly more annoying than Jamie Oliver.

Teaching Union, Teachers Against Teaching (TAT), have criticised Joe for talking too much in his mockney accent and for doing ‘shout outs’ during his routines. Heather McKicker says,

This has become more about parents wanting their 5 minutes of fame just so they can boast on social media about being named by Joe Wicks.

Fitness guru and cook Wicks has been dubbed Captain Serotonin and the “UK’s PE teacher” and he’s clearly influenced lots of families but real-life P.E. isn’t like this and qualified teachers aren’t thanking him.

Actual PE teacher, game changer and local legend Jim Kilty, 55, from Durham says,

Thanks to Wicks, I’ve got to perch on a bookshelf dressed as Batman because “that’s what Joe Wicks does sir!” It’s ridiculous. He’s made PE a fancy dress circus show. Next week they want me to be Fred Flintstone. I mean this is escapism and entertainment, not inclusive high-quality PE.

Head of Sport at the Groove Independent School in Branbourne, Kelly Masters thinks that Joe lacks the stamina of real PE teachers and wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a secondary school,

Joe looks knackered. He starts off these online sessions all bright and breezy but he tends to sound tired and basically ‘switches off’ as the weeks go by – that’s hardly motivating. Real PE teachers need plenty of staying power and they never give up – they can’t!

And it’s not just teachers and teaching unions that are critical of this beacon of wellbeing and positivity.

Head of the School Standards Service (SSS) Deborah Fernley-Footstool says that although it is “lovely” that multi-millionaire stars want to help children and their families during lockdowns, pupils should focus first on the “guided home learning support” provided by their out of breath real-life teachers. She says,

Joe has done great things but it’s time for him to back off now and let teachers get on with their jobs. PE staff around the country don’t need this clowning about. Parents are getting mixed messages – PE lessons aren’t  recreational magic carpet sessions of 20 minutes dressed up as a frog or Scooby-Doo.

The rise of celebs is worrying because they are creating an ego curriculum.

Stirrup, Hooper, Sandford, Harris, Casey and Cale (2020) argue that the marginalisation of PE within the curriculum has been highlighted by the reliance of the nation on Joe Wick’s ’PE lessons’ during the lockdown.

The issue is, the workouts offered by Joe Wicks have been seen as some sort of replacement for PE lessons yet his activities are just fitness sessions and that’s just not cricket and certainly not PE.

Stirrup et al (2020) say,

These fitness sessions are narrow in scope and repetitive in nature – consequently, they cannot develop broader physical skills and competences….PE has a great deal of potential for supporting children’s holistic development but, to realise this, it needs to be taught by qualified teachers – they simply cannot be replaced by any Joe Bloggs.

We have reached a critical point in PE provision. Clearly some schools are doing acres of it but there are those that aren’t which is why people are turning to Joe Wicks.

We need a virtual PE curriculum written and led by real PE teachers and not ego exercisers who like to show off how deep their carpets are.

And finally….

Born on Instagram and raised by Facebook, Joe might be the nation’s favourite ‘social’ PE teacher but he’s got nothing on Mr Geoff “Bullet” Baxter, PE teacher and Deputy Headteacher at Grange Hill, from 1979 to 1986, played by Michael Cronin.


Physical education teacher – pee-ee tee-cher (noun)

Definition: A Wicksian character from the Johnson novel ‘Pandemic’.


Joel Snape, writing in The Daily Telegraph 06.01.21 picks his best online instructors “for any occasion” and these include Yoga with Adriene, Gold Medal Bodies, Darryl Edwards, Cat Meffan, Lucy Wyndham-Read, Fitness with PJ, Athlean – X and of course Mr Wicks.

There are plenty of online instructors to choose from but I doubt you will get as flamboyant and energetic as Richard Simmons.

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