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The UK's education system has been ranked sixth best in the developed world, and the second best in Europe, owing to its strong science teaching and its high literacy, school completion and university graduation rates, as revealed by education firm Pearson's survey of top 20 countries offering best education system in the world.
Finland tops the list, followed by South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. The UK, which is considered as a single system, rather than four devolved administrations, comes sixth at the head of an above-average group including the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland. The middle-ranking group includes United States, Germany and France. The lowest end includes Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia.
The rankings combine international test results and data such as graduation rates between 2006 and 2010. Results are based on Pearson's Pisa tests that are conducted in every two to three years time interval. The tests constitute maths, science and literacy fields. The purpose of this exercise is to provide a more multi-dimensional view of educational achievement and create a data bank which will be updated, in a project that Pearson is calling the Learning Curve.
Sir Michael Barber, Pearson's chief education adviser, says successful countries give teachers a high status and have a "culture" of education.
International comparisons in education have become increasingly significant - and this latest league table is based upon a series of global test results combined with measures of education systems, such as how many people go on to university.
The UK does better, in part, because the new measure includes science education: one area of undisputed strength for the UK. The Learning Curve shows it in ninth place on science knowledge among 15-year-olds.
For more information on the UK education sector, see the latest research: UK Education Sector
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