Smithy Bridge Primary School headteacher praised for "being shining star throughout pandemic"

Date published: 11 January 2021

The headteacher of Smithy Bridge Primary School has been praised for “being a shining star throughout the whole pandemic.”

Parent Samantha Taylor has thanked the headteacher Chris Crook for his reaction to the pandemic, saying: “Mr Crook has been a shining star throughout the whole pandemic: from reassurance to the children to the heartfelt messages to the parents, he has gone above and beyond. The whole team have been more than we could have ever hoped for and we are extremely proud of our school and its amazing staff.

“Mr Crook sent such a fantastic message that I think a lot of parents needed to hear; he may have even brought a tear to some. This headteacher and his staff should know how special we think they are.”

Another parent, Louise Rothwell, whose son, Ethan, is a pupil at the school, echoed Samantha's sentiments. 

She said: “I absolutely agree! I’ve homeschooled Ethan for most of it [the pandemic]. With him being type 1 diabetic, he’s classed as clinically vulnerable but the census has always been he is still fine to return to school, which I disagreed with. Through all of it, Mr Crook has been brilliant and supported us.

“I think every parent at Smithybridge agrees how fab Mr Crook is; he’s a lovely man and from the start, Ethan has taken to him and speaks so fondly of him. Mr Crook said Ethan pops into his office all the time for a chat if his door's open. He has made that school a happy place and continues to do so through all this. He’s supported everyone; parents, children and teachers, no matter the circumstances and has given everyone confidence.

“His letters always leave you smiling. I couldn’t think of a better head to see the whole school community through this pandemic. Our children have a good future with this man to lead the way.”

Mr Crook sent a heartfelt message in his letter to parents sent on Friday 8 January, writing: “The most urgent thing I want to say to those of you who are home-schooling your children right now is:

“Please don’t worry that your child is falling behind, please stop beating yourselves up, please stop feeling bad that you cannot spend enough time home-schooling your children.

“You are doing a terrific job, your children are sending in great work and my staff are delighted when the next piece of completed work pings through on their laptop. Remember, first and foremost, you are a parent and your primary role at this time is to keep your children safe, fed and watered – educating your children at home, whilst important, is secondary to this.

“The vast majority of you are not educational experts (which is a good job, because I would be out of a job if you were!). Just do what you can. Don’t worry about what others are doing. We know how hard it is for you to juggle your own jobs, other children, personal struggles and the need to care for others as well as teach your children from home.

“I will say it again; you are doing a terrific job. Well done. I am awarding you all a gold star and two team points.”

Mr Crook added he saw how quickly children settled back into school after the last lockdown, and that staff would “deliver exactly what each child needs to ensure progress and happiness” – multiple times over, if need be.

Mr Crook’s letter continued, pointing out that “no child in the country is getting the education or experiences they deserve, regardless of whether they are in school or not.

“There is no such thing as ‘behind’. Your child is simply where they are ‘at’ and we will do all we can to help them progress with their learning and ensure that they are safe and that we keep any upset, fear and anxiety for them to a minimum.”

Reminding parents that “we are all in this together,” Mr Crook concluded: “All exams and tests have been cancelled for our children this year. No data will be used for any child.

“As a school, we are truly grateful to you all, and we appreciate all that you are doing.

“In the meantime, enjoy your weekend. Build a snowman, go for a walk, or, like me, lie down in a dark room for as long as possible with a box of Maltesers and a Diet Coke.”

Responding to the praise, Mr Crook said: “My staff and I are so appreciative of the support from our parents and carers. Across the country, headteachers and school staff are doing their very best to support their communities in these uncertain times.

“It has brought out the best in people, I think it has helped families to better understand their school, and I know that it has helped me to better understand my families and the wonderful community which I serve.

“I have also seen the best in our incredible children. I have seen resilience and I have seen great compassion which our children have shown to each other.

“I know that there will be more twists and turns as we navigate through the coming months. Like all headteachers, I am grateful for my staff, for their passion and commitment, grateful for my supportive governing body, grateful for the amazing children which I have and grateful for the families which I serve.

“We are all part of a fantastic team. We will support each other through this and find the silver linings which lie within – there are always some.

“When lockdown is over, we will celebrate. We will come back together. We will build and repair. We will move forward and beyond.

“I am privileged to do the job I do, even at times like this. Oh, and the fact that I was in the newspaper made my mum and dad so proud – thank you for this, my parents mean everything to me.”

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online