The Impact of Home Education on Social Development

Home Education and Social Development

The rising trend of home education in the UK has opened up several debates concerning the social development of children educated outside the conventional school system. This article explores the potential social implications of home education, focusing on the concerns of isolation from peers and how families navigate the challenges of ensuring well-rounded social development for their children.

What is Home Education?

Home education, also known as elective home education (EHE), involves parents taking on the responsibility of educating their children at home, rather than in a traditional school environment. In England, parents are legally responsible for ensuring that their child receives an efficient, full-time education suitable to the child’s age, ability, and any special educational needs they may have.

The Rise of Home Education

The prevalence of home education has been increasing, with estimates suggesting that around 80,900 children were known to be home educated in England by October 2022. This number rose to approximately 86,200 by January 2023. The increase reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional school system, concerns over bullying, and the desire for a more personalised educational approach.

Concerns About Social Development in Home Education

One of the most significant concerns regarding home education is the potential for social isolation. Traditional schooling inherently provides daily social interaction with a broad peer group, facilitating the development of interpersonal skills and social norms. In contrast, home-educated children might not have the same consistent access to such diverse social environments, which could potentially impact their social skills and emotional development.

Potential for Social Isolation

Home education removes children from the conventional settings where they naturally learn to navigate social hierarchies, resolve conflicts, and develop friendships. The lack of regular interaction with a consistent group of peers can lead to concerns about the child’s ability to develop effective social skills and emotional intelligence.

Impact on Teamwork and Cooperation

School settings offer numerous opportunities for group work and team-based activities which are critical for teaching children how to cooperate and work in teams. Home-educated children may miss out on these structured activities unless alternative group interactions are provided, which are vital for learning negotiation skills and the ability to work alongside others towards common goals.

Limited Exposure to Diverse Perspectives

Schools are microcosms of society that expose children to a wide range of cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds. This exposure is crucial for developing tolerance and understanding of diverse perspectives. Home education could potentially limit this exposure if not supplemented by diverse interactions outside the home, potentially leading to a more insular view of the world.

Challenges in Building Resilience

Regular schooling provides a controlled environment where children can encounter and learn to overcome challenges, both academically and socially. The protective environment of home education might limit these opportunities, potentially impacting the child’s ability to develop resilience and adaptability in unfamiliar situations.

Strategies for Socialisation in Home Education

Local Community Engagement

Many families turn to local community groups, sports teams, and educational clubs to ensure their children can interact regularly with others. These groups offer socialisation opportunities and help in developing teamwork and social skills.

Home Education Networks

Home education networks are invaluable for connecting with other home-educating families. These networks often organise group activities, field trips, and educational events, providing a structured environment for children to engage with peers.

Online Communities

In the digital age, online communities and forums have become a significant resource for social interaction. Children can participate in discussions, collaborate on projects, and build friendships with like-minded peers from around the world.

Structured Group Learning

Some families opt for cooperative learning groups, where children can learn together in a structured setting. These groups often meet regularly and are facilitated by parents or tutors, simulating a classroom environment.

The Role of Local Authorities

Local authorities in England do not have formal powers to monitor home education but are tasked with identifying children not receiving a suitable education. They recommend that local authorities should contact home-educating families annually to enquire about the education being provided. This interaction can also serve to advise on ensuring adequate social development.

Social Development at Cambridge Home School Online

Cambridge Home School Online creates a dynamic social environment through various initiatives designed to ensure that students do not miss out on crucial social interactions. The school hosts a very active student council that empowers students to voice their concerns and contribute to the school’s continuous improvement, facilitating leadership skills and community engagement.

Moreover, CHS offers a wide array of extra-curricular clubs that cater to diverse interests ranging from chess and yoga to coding and photography. These clubs not only enrich the students’ educational experience but also provide them with numerous opportunities to socialise, collaborate, and network with peers who share similar interests, enhancing their interpersonal skills.

The Oxbridge Russell Group club is another unique feature of CHS, preparing students for entrance into some of the world’s most prestigious universities. This club, led by Oxbridge-educated faculty, allows students to forge significant networks while gaining invaluable preparation for their future academic careers.

Additionally, CHS facilitates homework clubs and encourages students to work collaboratively, which helps them understand different perspectives and enhances their problem-solving skills. The school also supports the organisation of school get-togethers and trips, encouraging students to meet both online and in person, further strengthening their social bonds.

These opportunities show that CHS is committed to providing a well-rounded education that includes robust social development opportunities, ensuring that students are well-prepared not only academically but also socially, to thrive in any environment they choose to step into in the future.


  • Department for Education, Elective Home Education: Departmental Guidance for Parents and Local Authorities
  • Office of the Schools Adjudicator and Association of Directors of Children’s Services reports on home education
  • Home education in England


What is Home Education?

Home education, often referred to as elective home education (EHE), is when parents choose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to a traditional school. In England, this means that parents must provide a full-time education appropriate to the child’s age, abilities, and any special needs they might have.

Why is Home Education Becoming More Popular?

The number of home-educated children in England has been increasing, with data indicating about 86,200 children being educated at home as of January 2023. This trend is often attributed to parents’ growing dissatisfaction with the traditional school system, concerns about bullying, and a preference for a more personalised educational approach.

What are the Social Development Concerns Associated with Home Education?

A significant concern with home education is the potential for social isolation. Unlike in traditional schools where children interact daily with a diverse group of peers, home-educated children might have limited opportunities for such interactions, which could affect their social skills and emotional development.

How Can Home-Educated Children Avoid Social Isolation?

Families often mitigate the risk of social isolation by involving their children in local community groups, sports teams, and educational clubs. Additionally, many engage with home education networks that organize social and educational activities, providing opportunities for children to interact and learn in group settings.

What Role Do Local Authorities Play in Home Education?

Local authorities in England are tasked with ensuring that all children receive a suitable education but do not directly monitor home education on a regular basis. They are recommended to make annual contact with home-educating families to discuss the education being provided, which includes addressing social development needs.