The Ofsted annual report on the state of English schools released today paints a largely positive picture of education across the country.
Some 6,848 schools were inspected in the last year with 14 per cent judged to be "outstanding" - up from 11 per cent in 2006.
A further 46 per cent of schools judged to be "good" and 34 per cent "satisfactory".
The number of schools judged to be "inadequate" also fell - down from eight per cent in 2006 to six per cent this year.
School minister Lord Adonis said: "This annual report is the most positive and encouraging assessment we have seen of our schools. It highlights the great progress we have made but also the scale of the challenge ahead of us to create world class standards in every school and college in every part of the country.
"Against tough inspection standards, more schools are outstanding, the proportion of inadequate schools is lower, and Ofsted's close monitoring of schools where there have been concerns in the past is paying off."
However, despite the overall increases, the number of failing schools continued to be a concern for Ofsted.
Christine Gilbert, chief inspector of education said: "While it is encouraging to see an increasing trend in the number of good and outstanding schools, the proportion of schools - five per cent of primary and ten per cent of secondary - in which provision is inadequate continues to be a significant concern.
"In many of these schools pupils progress is hampered by poor basic skills in literacy and numeracy. It cannot be right that 20 per cent of pupils leave primary school without a solid foundation in literacy and numeracy."
Further education and adult learning also showed improvements.
Ofsted inspected 100 colleges and found 17 per cent to be "outstanding", with a further 44 per cent judged to be "good".
Only three per cent were regarded as "inadequate", down from eight per cent last year.
However, a worrying 35 per cent were judged to be "satisfactory".
"Coasting at satisfactory is not acceptable", continued Ms Gilbert, "all should aspire to be good or outstanding.
Ms Gilbert also identified severe inequalities in the education system, where "the gap between the outcomes for those with advantages in life, and those with the least, is not reducing quickly enough."
Only 12 per cent of 16 years olds in public care achieved five or more good GCSEs in 2006 compared with 59 per cent of all 16 years olds.
Ms Gilbert acknowledged: "This cannot be right and we need to do more.
"There is no quick fix but providers should learn from what works."
The government has promised action to address the concerns.
Kevin Brennan, minister for children and young people, said: "We are going to make sure children in care get places in the best schools and help from a designated teacher."
Children in care will receive £500 a year to support their education, along with £100 a year in a child trust fund and a £2000 university bursary.
"It is time for a radical change for these children, so that they get the same sort of opportunities as other children," concluded Mr Brennan.