Learning from peer support in reducing parental conflict


This case study draws on the reflections of Reducing Parental Conflict (RPC) leads from several local areas based on their experiences and feedback from taking part in peer-to-peer support to complete the Reducing Parental Conflict Planning Tool. It summarises the process and key areas of learning, which have in turn shaped thinking on how to further develop an approach to more extensive peer-to-peer support for local RPC leads to support sector-led improvement in this area.

The starting point

As part of wider thinking about how sector-led improvement could support the sustainability of local reducing parental conflict (RPC) support, Foundations established a peer support process centred around the RPC Planning Tool with the following aims:

  • Supporting local areas who had not previously completed a planning tool or had requested support 
  • Increasing the number of local areas who submitted a planning tool  
  • Improving the quality of planning tool submissions. 

The Reducing Parental Conflict Planning Tool is a self-assessment tool designed to support local RPC leads to identify local system strengths and areas for development, and to monitor progress over time. The planning tool is submitted to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on an annual basis. The planning tool is designed to support practical change through positive challenge within local partnerships. It can also be used to set a baseline and track progress over time.

The principle of the peer support offer was straightforward: the local areas that requested support to complete their planning tool ahead of submission to the DWP were paired with a peer in a similar role in a different local area who had more experience of the process so that they could offer support and guidance.

The proposed areas of support included involving partners in reviewing and updating the planning tool, as well as using local evidence to agree stages of progress across the elements of the planning tool. However, what support they took up was left open for local areas to decide based on what they agreed would be the best use of the time.

Action taken

Foundations’ role was limited to establishing the support required, determining whether a peer support approach was appropriate, introducing peers, and making some suggestions for areas of focus.

Local areas reported covering a range of topics within the peer support meetings, including planning tool content and levels, as well as broader local issues and challenges to delivery. As a result, when considering facilitating a similar process again, the scope of the support has been broadened and is not limited to planning tool submissions, although this remains a key aspect.

Once Foundations had introduced peers, the organisation and structure of meetings was decided by the two reducing parental conflict leads, who set-up meetings and agreed the areas of focus and discussion. There was variation in the levels of contact between peers, with some areas choosing to meet several times and follow up between meetings, and others preferring a single meeting to discuss areas of challenge. This in part may be explained by the tight scope of the peer support arrangements and the limited timeframe. When considering a future model of peer support, although the intention is to develop guiding principles and suggestions around structure of the relationship, local areas have reflected that keeping things simple and retaining autonomy is important.

Most of the challenges reported regarding the peer support process were logistical and were largely focussed on prioritising the time for meetings within busy schedules.

Key learning points

Overall feedback from those who took part was positive with local leads reflecting on the importance of making links with other local areas and learning from others in similar roles. Those who took part reflected on the benefits of hearing the experiences of other local areas, particularly on gaining insight around which areas of focus to consider when completing the planning tool. Local areas said that simply having one-to-one dedicated time and being able to ask questions was a helpful aspect of the support.

Due to the nature of the peer support relationships – that there was typically a more and less experienced peer – the relationship was framed as a mentor-mentee relationship. Having reflected on this with local reducing parental conflict leads, it was agreed that going forward it is important to ensure an equal peer-to-peer model which allows both parties to share insights and experiences and learn from one another.

As reflected previously, the organisation and structure of the support was led by local areas, and although this was largely welcomed, further discussions have highlighted the importance of providing some guiding principles and structure to support those participating to get the most out of a peer-to-peer support approach.

The support was previously organised around planning tool submissions, and although this will remain a factor of support going forward, there is an opportunity to broaden this for local areas to share learning across different elements of their RPC work, supporting a longer-term peer-to-peer relationship with broader scope to consider different areas of focus and challenge.

The future

Based on this learning, Foundations are in the process of establishing an updated offer of peer support for RPC leads in 2024/25. This will include a more thorough matching process which considers areas of focus for those taking part as well as similarities between local areas, and where possible, matching applicants from statistically similar areas. This will be facilitated through a short survey for those local areas which interested in taking part.

Alongside this, a suite of simple resources has been developed to support the structure of the peer-to-peer support. This includes:

  • a support agreement  
  • a first meeting guide 
  • a support journal. 

These resources have been designed to be used by those taking part to help align expectations for the support, agree areas of focus, and provide structure to conversations. It is intended that using these resources will ensure peers are able to get the most out of the peer-support process.

The ambitions for the peer support approach include increasing the number and quality of Reducing Parental Conflict Planning Tool submissions and to have local leads feel supported by a colleague in a similar role. The process will be monitored by short surveys to understand engagement with peer support and to continue to develop the offer.


A more extensive peer support network for reducing parental conflict has the potential to support sector-led improvement in this area. Local areas have reflected on the importance of developing their networks and learning from others in similar roles to continue to develop their local RPC approach.  

Contact kathryn.catterall@foundations.org.uk to find out more about the peer-to-peer support offer.


Related Publications

Bradford: Relationships Matter

Kirklees: Learning from local stakeholders to strengthen the local response to reducing parental conflict