A new report claims Britain has the second-best education system in Europe and the sixth-best in the world.
The study, Learning Curve 2014, has been compiled by the publisher Pearson and is based on a series of global datasets. The results will be encouraging for those in education jobs, as the UK's ranking is significantly better than its position in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment tables.
In Europe, the UK is two places above the Netherlands and six higher than Germany, with only Finland performing better.
However, the new study shows that the UK continues to lag behind many areas in the Far East, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser to publishing giant Pearson, said that higher expectations among Asian parents could lie behind the success of pupils in those areas.
"In the Pacific Asian cultures, there is a strong belief that effort will be rewarded," he said.
"If you try harder, work harder, you'll achieve higher standards, whereas in Britain and America, particularly, there is a perception that you are born either bright and the education system pulls that through, or doesn't. And that has a big impact on attitudes."
Sir Michael added that many parents in such countries spend long periods in the evening helping children to do their homework.
He contrasted this attitude with the culture of Britain, where expectations are not as high. Sir Michael suggested that this may be due to the fact that people in western countries assume children are either naturally clever or they aren't - and this can be a self-defeating point of view.
The education adviser said the culture in the UK and the US does not necessarily expect effort to be rewarded.
John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson, told the BBC that education systems around the world can learn from each other. He said many countries face the same challenges of trying to raise standards without a corresponding increase in funding and other resources.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels