Primary teachers and secondary teachers in the UK have played a part in improving child wellbeing, a new report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has indicated.
UNICEF's 'Report Card 11' ranked the UK 16th out of 29 of the world's most advanced economies on child wellbeing, which was an improvement from UNICEF's 2007 publication 'Report Card 7', in which the UK came last out of 21 countries.
However, this was in spite of a relatively poor performance on education indicators, on which the UK was ranked 24th, placing it well behind leaders in this field such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Finland and Slovenia.
While the UK fares comparatively well in terms of early childhood education and educational achievement, the country also has the lowest further education participation rate in the developed world and almost 10 per cent of young people are not in education, employment or training.
On the material wellbeing of children, the UK did well in terms of child deprivation but less so on equality, while its performance on child health was also middling, although obesity and child alcohol consumption both declined between 2000 and 2010.
Nonetheless, UNICEF warned that achievements attained over the past decade could be undermined by recent budget cuts.
It pointed out that £300 million was cut from services for young people in the Department for Education's 2011-12 budget, as well as that 400,000 more children are projected to be in poverty by 2015-2016 as a result of reductions in services.
Anita Tiessen of UNICEF UK asserted: "With the UK ranking near the bottom of the league table on teenage pregnancy and young people not in education, employment or training, we know that many are facing a bleaker future.
"The government needs to acknowledge this and act now. While children and young people will be the first to bear the brunt if we fail to safeguard their wellbeing, over time society as a whole will pay the price."
However, schools minister David Laws countered that the report indicated that the previous Labour administration's approach of investing in education without reforming it had failed
Mr Laws furthermore insisted that the current government is implementing "vital reforms" in childcare, schools and further education that will benefit children and young people.
Posted by Harriet McGowan