Education Secretary Michael Gove said the coalition government's reforms are driven by what happens in countries who performed better than the UK in English, maths and science in the international school league tables published today.
Mr Gove said his radical reforms were inspired by what happens in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, which topped the performance charts. He said the top performing countries, certain common features occur, which he has placed at the heart of the Coalition strategy. They are:
Improving social justice
Providing a more rigorous curriculum
Giving schools greater autonomy
Giving head teachers greater powers to hire and fire
These poor results show the last government failed to secure the improvements in school standards our young people desperately need. Labour poured billions of pounds into schools and ratcheted up exam grades - yet our education system stagnated and we fell behind other nations."
Labour's shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the poor performance showed the failings of the government's schools policy.
"The PISA report is a big wake-up call. Eastern dominance centres on the importance that these high performing education systems place on the quality and status of the teaching profession as the central lever for driving up standards.
"This report exposes the failings of this Government's schools policy: a policy that has sent unqualified teachers into the classroom and prevented effective collaboration between schools."
Girls in the UK perform worse than boys in maths and are less likely to enjoy the subject, a major international study into education has revealed.
It found that UK boys outperformed girls by 12 points on average in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.
The gender gap across OECD countries on average is 11 points, with boys doing better in most countries.
Boys also did better than girls in science with a gender gap of 13 points, larger than the OECD average one one point. But girls performed better in reading, scoring 25 points more on average, significantly less than the OECD's average gender gap of 38 points.
However, Andreas Schleicher, special adviser to the OECD's secretary-general, said the gender gap in the UK is considerably better than many other countries.
"In the UK that gender gap is not actually that pronounced. The UK is doing better than many countries in giving students, boys and girls equal opportunities, on balance."
A major study into the educational achievements of teenagers across the world has found that UK students have "failed to improve" since 2009, and remain around average in maths and reading, and slightly above average in science.
The study found that the UK spends more per head on education than the average across OECD countries, at around £59,889 per student between the ages of six and 15.
The UK's performance in maths, reading and science has failed to improve in recent years, leaving UK teens lagging far behind peers in countries such as Sinapore, Korea and Japan, a major international study has found.
Despite the UK spending more than average on education, there has been "no change" in the country's abilities in the three basic subjects, according to the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study 2012.
The UK placed 26th place for maths, 23rd for reading and 21st for science out of the total 65 countries that took part in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) study last year.