MOST parents believe teenagers today get a better education and work harder than they did, according to a new survey.
And nine out of 10 in the study - commissioned by exams board Edexcel - said they were satisfied with the academic achievements and results of their child's school or college.
More than half thought education had improved since their day and three out of five thought the education system was "heading in the right direction".
However, nearly a quarter feared their children were getting a worse education than previous generations even though the vast majority were happy with their exam results. The same proportion believed that their children's education had failed to prepare them for the world of work.
The survey of parental confidence in the education system was carried out by Opinion Research Business. The firm interviewed 1,503 parents in England and Wales whose children took GCSEs and A-levels from 1997 to 1999.
In a league table of parents' confidence in British institutions, the education system took third place, below the armed forces and the police, but higher than the Church and parliament.
Ther was a mixed response to the question of whether exams were getting tougher. A quarter said A-levels were harder while 12 per cent thought they were easier.
Parents also agreed that the "gold standard" A-level was an important exam, but more than half felt it was possible to have a good career with other qualifications.
Opinions on GCSEs were even more divided, 26 per said they were tougher compared to 21 per cent who thought they were getting easier.
Just over 40 per cent said their children achieved what they had expected in exams, but 39 per cent were pleasantly surprised. One in six parents was disappointed with their children's results.
The majority of parents said students had to work harder at school than they did to achieve good results. And increased pass rates in the past few years were put down to hard graft and better teaching methods.
Parents were strongly in favour of coursework counting towards the final exam mark because it was seen as fairer and made children less dependent on a single exam.
Edexcel chief executive Dr Christina Townsend said: "The survey shows that parents are seeing standards rise and their children work harder and smarter than their own generation. The best time for learning seems to be now."