More than a third of schools are not giving pupils a good education, inspectors warned today.
One in ten 11-year-olds are still leaving primary school without reaching the level expected of their age group in English and maths, Ofsted's annual report found.
And more than half of England's teenagers are still leaving school without five good GCSEs, including English and maths.
In her third annual report, Chief Inspector of Schools Christine Gilbert said England must do better if it is to compare favourably with the rest of the world.
She said she was concerned that there was still too much variation in achievement between different areas of the country.
Poor quality services existed across the education and care sectors, for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Poorer children, such as those who qualify for free schools meals, were still less likely to achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, than their peers.
In 2007, only 21 per cent of children on free school meals achieved this benchmark, compared with 49 per cent of other pupils.
Ms Gilbert said there was a strong link across every sector between deprivation and poor quality services.
She said: "This means that children and families already experiencing relative deprivation face further inequity in the quality of care and support for their welfare, learning and development.
"In short, if you are poor you are more likely to receive poor services: disadvantage compounds disadvantage."
But Ms Gilbert added it was possible to "buck this trend" and there were examples of places that were outstanding.
She said: "Typically the provision that really makes a difference is ambitious. It does not believe that anyone's past or present circumstances should define their future."
Today's report covers the first full year of Ofsted's new wider remit - they now inspect and regulate social care, children's services, adult learning and skills, as well as schools and childcare.
It found improvements in school standards, with 15 per cent of schools judged to be outstanding, up slightly from 14 per cent last year.
In primaries that figure was 13 per cent while in secondaries it was 17 per cent.
But more than a third of schools (37 per cent) were found to be not good enough - given a rating of "satisfactory" or "inadequate".
More than four in ten (43 per cent) secondary schools were rated no better than satisfactory, although this was down from 49 per cent in 2006/07.
In primaries this figure was 37 per cent.
Nursery schools had some of the best ratings, with 39 per cent judged to be outstanding and 58 per cent rated good. Just 3 per cent were rated satisfactory and there were none that were inadequate.
A higher proportion of childcare and early education was good or outstanding this year.
But the quality of provision varies, and it is not as good in areas with high deprivation.
The report said that teaching literacy and numeracy skills must "remain a priority" and while there was evidence of improvements in these areas, in some progress was still too slow.
And it warned that more needed to be done to raise standards at GCSE level.
"A decade ago, two-thirds of secondary age pupils left compulsory education with five good GCSEs, including English and maths - it is still more than half."Reuse content