The UK's education system has been ranked sixth best in the developed world in a global league table published by education firm Pearson.
International comparisons in education have become increasingly significant and it is encouraging to see that the UK has maintained a strong position in the global rankings. Finland topped the chart, with South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore making up the top five.
The rankings are compiled using international test results and data such as graduation rates between 2006 and 2010. Sir Michael Barber, Pearson's chief education adviser, said successful countries give teachers a high status and have a "culture" of education.
He added that the gathering of this information represented the "start of something significant", because it provides a practical resource for policy makers wanting to learn from other countries. The former adviser to Tony Blair continued to say that the UK's performance fitted into the view that education standards had risen at the end of the 1990s and into the early 2000s and had then levelled off.
The UK - which is considered a single education system, rather than four divided administrations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) - ranked at the head of an above- average group including the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.
Middle-ranking countries included the US (ranked 17th), Germany (15th) and Russia (20th). At the lowest end of the scale was Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia.
The survey concluded that for an education system to be successful, spending is important but is not as influential as having a culture that is supportive of learning. Asia's success largely relates to the high value attached to education and the expectations of parents. This is something that continues when families migrate to other countries.
Teaching quality was also raised as a fundamental aspect to good education, with the need to find ways to recruit the best staff deemed particularly important. The rankings showed no clear link between higher relative pay and higher performance among teachers, but a direct economic link of high and low performing education systems.
Posted by Harriet McGowan