Britain's schools lag behind Iran for the teaching of maths and science, according to a study conducted by the World Economic Forum.
A report by the World Economic Forum has ranked UK schools 43rd in the world - behind countries such as Iran, Trinidad and Tobago and Lithuania.
The findings are a damning indictment of Tony Blair's pledge to prioritize 'education, education, education' and come after education spending doubled from £35.8billion to £71billion under Labor.
The Prime Minister will today warn that Britain needs a return to 'elitism' and a 'complete intolerance of failure' in its schools. The country must improve standards to compete with the rising economies of Iran, India and China, he is expected to say in a major speech.
'We want to create an education system based on real excellence, with a complete intolerance of failure,' Mr. Cameron will add. 'We've got to be ambitious if we want to compete in the world.
'When China is going through an educational renaissance, when India is churning out science graduates... any complacency now would be fatal for our prosperity.'
He will hail the opening of the Coalition's free schools - state schools run by businesses, charities or parents - as indicative of a 'real passion for education'.
The Prime Minister will also say education reform is vital to help 'mend our broken society'.
The WEF findings reveal British pupils are at a disadvantage compared to many others around the world, with the country at risk of developing a core skills shortage.
While the UK languishes in 43rd position in the table, Singapore tops the list, followed by Belgium and Finland.
New Zealand takes seventh place, Canada eighth, France 15th and Bosnia and Herzegovina 41st. Just below the UK sit Jordan and Romania.
And Britons do not only fare poorly when it comes to maths and science, as a recent OECD report showed a fifth of 15-year-olds are 'functionally illiterate'.
The WEF annual study, carried out between January and July, is based on in-depth surveys of 142 countries and takes into account each nation's economic and business standing.
It is thought this is because during the recession, teenagers have heeded calls from employers for more graduates who have core skills in maths and science.
A group of universities will slash tuition fees in an attempt to secure hundreds of student places, it emerged yesterday.
However, the move drew criticism yesterday and accusations that the Coalition's policy is in complete disarray. It comes a week before the admissions process for next year starts.
This means thousands will be expected to choose universities without knowing the cost, pointed out Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students.
Meanwhile, it was announced that fees in Northern Ireland will be kept at £3,500 a year.