Sir – The report (January 19) of (The) Cherwell School’s decision to become an academy as part of a “gold-rush” led by the hyperactive Michael Gove (1,529 academies and still counting) might be a good moment to celebrate the achievements of the now deceased local education authorities and their dedicated educationalists who, with vision and precision, always put pupils and teachers first.

In Oxford and Oxfordshire we were fortunate to have benefited from decades of service post-1945 by the likes of Alan Chorlton, John Dorrell and John Garne and countless others who understood that education is too precious a “gift” to be left to small-minded politicians.

As Dr Harry Judge, from 1973 to 1988, director of Oxford University’s Department of Educational Studies and an acute educational scholar and theorist, wrote in his obituary of John Dorrell (The Guardian, April 1, 2002): “chief education officers were national figures and thinkers in their own right” and certainly deserve recognition for their endeavours, especially in this frenzied time of demolition of so much they nurtured and cherished.

If I may just cite a personal link. My mother, Molly Ross-Smith (1912-1990), an intuitively gifted teacher of children on both sides of the Atlantic, was employed in the 1960s by Oxford education officer, John Nichols, to open a caravan school for travellers’ children, located in Blackbird Leys, in what was, I believe, one of the first LEA schools of its kind in the United Kingdom, just one small example of what LEAs strove to achieve for all pupils.

Meanwhile, the comprehensive “ideal” remains a vital one, aimed, as that most humane of sociologists, Professor Peter Townsend, put it in 1965, at “a minimum fulfilment of the principle of equality of educational opportunity and a corporate social unity which may even spill over into adult life”, a minimum fulfilment which cannot be achieved by divide and rule!

Bruce Ross-Smith, Headington