Judging by a lot of bewilderment on social media a few weeks ago, when someone asked where to complete a PANCo qualification, it quickly became obvious that people in the industry had not heard of it apart from an alternative to coat chicken in! With the implementation of the revised EYFS the PANCo role will be a great addition to any early years setting.

In 2009, the Cambridge Childhood Partnership was created by three health and education professionals, who wanted to develop a health and wellbeing qualification in Early Years. They developed the idea of a physical & nutritional coordinator (PANCo) to be employed in every setting. In 2010 they launched a Cache-endorsed programme to 60 eager early years professionals and it was launched nationwide in 2014 as part of the Cache level 4 Advanced Practitioner course, as well as now a stand-alone unit.

PANCo Role
The PANCo champions best practice in physical activity and nutrition and acts as the agent for change. They lead positive change to ensure an environment and ethos that supports the prevention of obesity and health and wellbeing of children, families, and staff. Staff completing the PANCo qualification need to be able to reflect, analyse and implement change within their setting. They need to be able to lead other staff members to promote a healthy lifestyle within the setting and support families to make positive changes. There has been so much research that leads to the conclusion that if children are encouraged to make healthy choices from an early age this can influence positive choices in adulthood.

Research task
Within the 5 units of the Level 4 Advanced Practitioner, there is a small research task. We encourage our learners to relate their research task to the PANCo unit. We have seen some amazing changes in settings’ practices from these tasks. From implementing forest schools, control of portion sizes, ‘walk a mile a day’ to healthy choices in lunch boxes and oral hygiene. Feedback from early years managers and owners have told us, it’s not only excellent CPD for staff but the impact on other staff members and parents has been huge.

New EYFS Update
With the emphasis in the update on promoting good oral hygiene, now is a really good time to analyse practice and procedures with a setting. Good oral hygiene doesn’t just mean adding in teeth brushing after a meal but settings can look at the food choices they offer; to eliminate high sugar contents, encourage parents to use sugar free medicines, to visit the dentist regularly, and have healthy lifestyle topics, books, resources, and visits. Hygienists and dentists make great visits to settings!

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