Albert Crosby B.Sc., ARCS: 1927–2011 [Heath 1971–1984]

The death of Albert Crosby was announced in September. He had been appointed Headmaster of Heath School in September 1971 and served until April 1984.

Head and shoulders of Albert Crosby
Albert Crosby

He once wrote that when he took up the post he was told, Reorganisation at Heath is imminent. Indeed, his recent previous experience in teaching had been in the supervision of school changes from selective to comprehensive systems. However, no change was to come in the period of thirteen years that he served as Head.

Instead his task was to maintain morale and progress in the face of what might have been a form of ‘planning blight.’ One of his first tasks was to find replacements for a number of distinguished masters who had each served the school for a period of 30 years or more — Arthur Owen, Herbert Morris, George Littlefair, Harry Birchall and Frank Haigh. In the course of doing this he also had to adapt the curriculum which had been largely unchanged since 1945. All this had to be achieved at a time when the local authority did not see the school as justifying any major investment of resources.

He maintained Heath as a worthwhile and rewarding place in which to learn and to teach by a combination of shrewdness, humanity and openness. He allowed his colleagues to teach; he trusted their professional judgment and shielded them from the petty bureaucracy which has threatened to overtake good classroom teaching so often in the past decades. He showed the value that he placed on sound classroom practice by maintaining a solid teaching load himself. His classes were usually made up of the less able mathematicians in their GCE ordinary level years. They made progress under this tuition and appreciated the fact that the Head had chosen them as his pupils.

His study door was usually left slightly open unless he was engaged in an interview or other business and anyone thus had immediate access to the ‘man at the top’ — something not always present in many organisations. He personally encouraged the school’s continued involvement in sport, music, drama, foreign travel and other activities which offered pupils the richness of experience that has always characterised the school.

He was a very able mathematician — a gift that stood him in good stead in his favourite pastime of Bridge which he played to a high level. He was a serious music enthusiast and also greatly enjoyed foreign travel, especially to France. He was a devoted family man but suffered the grievous loss of his wife, Dorothy, not long after he had retired. In later years he was able to live near his son in Poole, Dorset and to enjoy the company of his grandchildren.

He was certainly someone of whom it could be said, Dignus Favore fuit.