THE headteacher of an East Lancashire primary school today told of her sadness at the snatch of two pupils by their father.

As pupils throughout the area returned to their desks following the summer break, Salam, 10 and Noor Al Momani, seven, were beginning their second month in Jordan after being snatched by their father during an access visit and taken to the Middle East state.

Police and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are currently battling to get the girls reunited with their mother, Josephine Bromley, of Lower Darwen, although Jordanian officials are currently not responding to requests for information.

Susan Morton, the headteacher at Lower Darwen Primary School, Milking Lane, said: "Both girls were very popular and wonderful pupils to have at this school.

"We are not planning to sit down and explain to the pupils what has happened because we believe most of them will already know, thanks to the immense media coverage it has received. But, of course, many of them will be upset. We will be telling them they are not living in the area at the moment.

"It is very sad. We do hope we will be able to welcome them back to the school but it is a very sensitive issue."

She added: "Salam was supposed to be one of the pupil representatives this year. She would have worked with me to present the pupil's view on issues and be someone the younger pupils could talk too. They are both wonderful girls."

Miss Bromley, whose elder daughter Emma, 14, also goes back to school today, said: "It seems very quiet and it is getting me down. Normally, I would be busy buying them all new clothes and sowing their names on to things ready for school.

"I had hoped their father would bring them home in time for the start of the school term but today is just another hope dashed."

She added: "The school have been lovely. They have sent me a bouquet of flowers and have told me to pop in whenever I want to which I really appreciate because it will be lonely with Emma going back to school as well. It is very hard for us at the moment. We are hoping to see Jack Straw at the end of the week."