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Lessons are happier if you live in Scotland

It's official. Scottish education is superior to that south of the border - at least the pupils think so.

Research from Edinburgh University has found that British pupils have never felt so good about school - but Scottish pupils feel even better.

In a rare piece of good news for ministers and teachers, an analysis of Government surveys over the past 15 years shows rising "approval ratings" by teenagers who were asked to assess their secondary schools.

Successive questionnaires since the mid-1980s have asked more than 100,000 youngsters aged 16 and 17 whether they agreed with three statements:

* School has given me confidence to make decisions.

* School has done little to prepare me for life when I leave school.

* School has taught me things useful in a job.

On all three questions, the proportion giving answers reflecting well on their school rose sharply in the late 1980s and maintained a steady upward trend throughout the 1990s.

The proportion of pupils agreeing with the first statement rose from 54 per cent in 1986 to 70 per cent in 1999. Welsh results were similar, while Scottish students recorded even bigger improvements and now have higher "approval ratings" than those south of the border.

Linda Croxford of Edinburgh University put forward the data, which cover the 13 years to 1999, from early findings of a three-year study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Dr Croxford said: "Young people throughout Britain are becoming increasingly satisfied with their school experience."

Overall, youngsters from independent schools were more satisfied with their lot than those from state schools. But English grammar school pupils gave lower approval ratings than those from comprehensives.

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