Having come across this book by chance in a mail shot from Policy Press, I felt I needed to write this review to help others actively seek out the book. This is the book I wish i had been told to read at the start of my career in Education. Not only does it highlight they key issues in education, but it also positions England in a global education landscape and pulls out what it does well and where it falls behind in comparison. In many texts, there is a focus on the historical, philosophical or practical basis of teaching, or a list of past policies and initiatives. This book educates the reader about what has been, what is and what could be.
Mortimore is well placed to write such a book having worked in both the English system at the coal face and in academia as well as having held a professional role in Denmark. The book ensures that no stone is unturned in exploring the nuances and challenges of our education system and how they sit with ideas of what education is for.After examining the purpose of education, Mortimore takes the reader through issues such as learning, teaching, schools as buildings and institutions and inspection before examining more closely the strengths and weaknesses of the system as is. It is the latter chapters, however, that really make this book essential reading as they are where the provocation and critique take place. What makes it essential reading for the practitioner is the way in which current failings of the system are explained in terms of how they impact upon the daily tasks of teachers.
Unlike some similar books, this is not one of answers. Whilst eluding to some solutions does not try to write a blueprint for the future of education but he starts to closely examine the barriers and challenges of the system and suggests avenues for work and research and for policy changes to start improving the system. It is a volume that makes the reader really question the underlying assumption of the field within which they work.
Mortimore, P. (2013) Education under siege: Why there is a better alternative, Bristol: Policy Press