ONE would need a heart of stone not to feel for the pupils, headteacher, staff and governors of Headlands School today.

The Cricklade Road school has been taken directly under the control of Swindon Council, amid concerns that it is at the bottom of the town's school league tables.

Keith Defter, chairman of the Swindon Association of Secondary headteachers, says it is sad for the school and its headteacher, John Wells.

He is correct in this, and is also correct to assert that students need to have an opportunity to obtain a good education.

There are those in Swindon who see fit to condemn the school over its performance, but before they do, they should bear in mind one or two points.

Yes, only 16 per cent of its pupils gain the benchmark five GCSE passes at grades A-C.

But let us not forget that three years ago the figure was 11 per cent, showing that the headteacher, staff, governors and pupils are all committed to improvement.

The decision to take the school into local authority control has been made and is not likely to be unmade in a hurry.

Now let us see what concrete proposals the local authority has to bring the school up to the standard it deems appropriate.

The council, prompted perhaps by the central Government, clearly feels it is more up to the job.

We await the proof with interest, as do the parents of 887 Headlands pupils.