New CPD qualification for Early Years Practitioners developed by CACHE

CACHE has developed a new CPD qualification for practitioners working in Early Years settings, to support learners to take on the role of a PANCo.

Good health and well-being is essential for people of all ages, and the best way to form healthy habits is to start from a young age. This is why the Physical Activity and Nutrition Co-ordinator (PANCo) role in Early Years settings has been developed.

The role of a PANCo involves applying knowledge and skills to lead and support change within the setting, liaising with external Health and Education professionals and providing advice and information for parents and carers. PANCos will also be expected to demonstrate leadership and mentoring skills, work collaboratively with others to lead change and ensure best practice and national recommended guidelines are met.

To support practitioners who would like to take on this specialist role, CACHE has developed the Level 4 Award in Promoting Health and Well-being Through Physical Activity and Nutrition Co-ordination in the Early Years. This qualifications builds on the PANCo unit which is part of the Level 4 Certificate for the Early Years Advanced Practitioner.

Early Years experts from PurpleBee Learning and the Cambridge Childhood Partnership (CCP), have shown their support for this qualification, demonstrating its quality and rigour, and should allow practitioners to meet and exceed Ofsted’s expectations around the health and well-being of children, families and staff.

Linda Baston-Pitt, CEO of PurpleBee, has been the driving force behind developing the national PANCo role and for the last 25 years she has been supporting Early Years settings across the UK and beyond to develop their wellbeing strategies. As co-founder of the PANCo qualification, she is keen to share her own experience and knowledge in the sector as well as providing a platform for others to share their challenges and successes.

Linda commented: “I believe this qualification is valuable for learners because it supports employability; PANCos learn to reflect on their own professional practice and to continuously improve how children and staff engage with physical activity and healthy eating across the setting. They do this by working collaboratively with staff, parents and carers, and other professionals, to make positive change for the health and wellbeing of babies and children.

“As Early Years providers, we are in a unique position to make a real difference to the future health of our children and the new PANCo role is at the forefront of that endeavour. The qualification provides the essential specialist skills for Early Years professionals, first line managers and leaders who are crucial in supporting and sustaining wellbeing.

Whilst preventing obesity is a complex issue that demands political and societal changes, there is no shortage of guidance for Early Years Educators. Having a PANCo working in every Early Years organisation ensures that the whole setting reinforces the value of physical activity and healthy eating in everything that they do. It is an inclusive and sustainable approach that involves everyone: staff, children, parents and carers, health professionals and the wider community.

“Together we can build the evidence we need to show that having a PANCo in your organisation makes a measurable difference to the health and wellbeing of children, staff and families.

“My hope is that one day every Early Years setting will have a PANCo.”

Faye Bentley, Co-Founder of the PANCo role and Director of Cambridge Childhood Partnership (CCP), is a Public Health Dietitian, and postgraduate researcher who specialises in childhood nutrition and obesity prevention.

Faye said: “As a cofounder of the role, it is fantastic to see this new award, which alongside the certificate provides a route for early years professionals to become PANCo’s. These qualifications are unique in that they provide learners with a robust knowledge of healthy eating and physical activity for children under five as well as supporting practitioners to develop skills to lead and manage change to implement best practice within the setting.  

“The early years is recognised as crucial period in childhood for laying down the foundations for good health and with the expertise of PANCo’s, organisations are well placed to champion change and create a supportive environment that enables children to develop positive eating behaviours and foster habits to become physically active.”

Janet King, Sector Manager Education and Childcare at CACHE, said: “Studying to learn more about the role of the PANCo could be appropriate CPD for those involved in working with young children. Additionally, the qualification may also appeal to those in the sector who are not ‘hands on’ but who contribute to the holistic health and wellbeing of babies, young children and their families. Examples include chefs working in early years settings, childminders, nursery directors or sports specialists.”

If learners do not currently hold a full Level 3 early years/childcare qualification but are interested in finding out more about the PANCo role as CPD, please speak with your External Quality Assurer.

To find out more about this qualification, please visit our QualHub website.