EDUCATION TOP 20
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
UK education sixth in global ranking
The UK's education system is ranked sixth best in the developed world, according to a global league table published by education firm Pearson. The first and second places are taken by Finland and South Korea.
The rankings combine international test results and data such as graduation rates between 2006 and 2010.
This composite picture puts the UK in a stronger position than the influential Pisa tests from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - which is also one of the tests included in this ranking.
The two education superpowers - Finland and South Korea - are followed by three other high-performing Asian education systems - Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
The UK - which is considered as a single system, rather than four devolved administrations - is then ranked at the head of an above-average group including the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.
These are ahead of a middle-ranking group including the United States, Germany and France.
Looking at education systems that succeed, the study concludes that spending is important, but not as much as having a culture that is supportive of learning.
The success of Asian countries in these rankings reflects the high value attached to education and the expectations of parents. This can continue to be a factor when families migrate to other countries, says the report accompanying the rankings.
Looking at the two top countries - Finland and South Korea - the report says that there are many big differences, but the common factor is a shared social belief in the importance of education and its "underlying moral purpose".
The report also emphasizes the importance of high-quality teachers and the need to find ways to recruit the best staff. This might be about status and professional respect as well as levels of pay.
The ranking for levels of school choice shows that Finland and South Korea have among the lowest levels of school choice. But Singapore, another high performer, has the highest level. The UK is among the upper levels in terms of school choice.