Letters Extra: Rebutting sloppy thinking and non-sequiturs

No doubt there are sound arguments in favour of PRP, but readers will not find them in Andrew Oswald's rebuttal of of his self-identified arguments against PRP ('Do we really need the carrot and stick?', TES , August 9).

In a masterpiece of sloppy thinking and non-sequitors, he tells us that (1) his own research group cannot find any convincing link between 'job satisfaction at work (sic) and the existence of PRP', (2) there is some evidence that PRP increases productivity in the workplace, therefore (3) the 'sheer statistical evidence' favours the PRP case!

He then goes on to attack headteachers who oppose PRP in their schools because they are (1) Brits, (2) they were brought up to read the Guardian, to be suspicious of meritocratic principles, and to distrust the private sector, and (3) they are prisoners of their own mindset (whatever that means). What on earth all this has to do with PRP is very far from clear and tells us a great deal about Andrew Oswald if nothing sensible at all about headteachers and their views on PRP in schools.

In an attempt to clinch the matter, he gives us two examples from his American experience. The first concerns the Ivy League where he discovered that there were huge pay differences because, apparently, some faculty members had more talent and worked harder than others. He ignores the counter-argument that PRP might encourage just such a division between those who are benefiting and therefore seek to make a continuing impression and those who are not and therefore see little point in exerting themselves. His second example is that of garbage collection in the US, which may bear more relevance to his shoddy analysis than to the real issues of PRP in schools.

What a pity that the predictably robust and closely-reasoned counter-proposals by Doug McAvoy could not have been balanced by an intellectually stronger case for PRP.

Ken Fox, Hythe, Hants.

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