FIGHTS between schoolboys and a gang at a bus stop outside Marks and Spencer left one boy with a gash to the head.

Ambulances and police were called to reports of a stabbing in Stratheden Parade, off Old Dover Road, Blackheath, at around 5.10pm yesterday.

The boy, a Year 10 pupil at Blackheath Bluecoat Church of England School, was taken to hospital but his condition is not believed to be serious.

Senior staff from the school spent this morning visiting shops along the road to apologise for the disruption, which saw the street cordoned off by police.

Blood stains were still visible on the pavement outside the shop entrance today.

Headteacher Jeffrey Risbridger told News Shopper: “ I feel because it’s my pupils, clearly I need to go and make my peace with the shopkeepers.

“But there comes a point, doesn’t there, when you say, how can a school be responsible for its pupils three hours after the end of a school day.”

He said: “This wasn’t a fight between Blackheath Bluecoat children. This was, as I understand it, some of our children being attacked by a gang not connected to the school.”

Mr Risbridger said that the school works a compressed school day, starting at 8.30pm and finishing at 2.30pm with only two short breaks, partly to minimise disruption around the Blackheath Standard area.

Pupils are kept in throughout the day, staff are on duty at the gates until 3pm and there is also a police presence, with some pupils being searched on their way in and out of school.

And he said part of the problem was the area’s use as a transport hub, meaning pupils from other schools pass through, sometimes causing friction with Bluecoat pupils.

The headteacher said: “This was more serious because a child was injured. But there are scuffles outside every school. That’s the nature of children.”

He added: “I’m obviously deeply concerned about the fact that any child was injured as a result of a violent attack between two groups of children.

“I’m obviously very relieved that there appears to be no long-term injury.”