The principal of a college where four students were arrested after an axe was brandished in a fight has moved to reassure parents and students it is a safe environment for learning.

No-one was injured in the fight which led to the arrest of a 19-year-old student on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon at Sir George Monoux College in Chingford Road, Walthamstow, at 11am on Thursday.

Three other 19-year-old men were arrested on suspicion of affray after the fight broke out in the canteen.

Principal Paolo Ramella insisted the college puts the safety of its students first, and praised security guards for their quick reaction to the incident.

He said: “We pride ourselves on the safety of our environment. This was an extraordinary event and one that must never happen again. I condemn it in the strongest possible way.

“I’ve already sent our campus officers a letter of thanks at how swift and professional they were.”

The guards pulled the students apart and managed to seize the weapon, keeping all four in separate rooms in the college under supervision while the police were called.

There are around 2,000 students at the college, which has 24-hour security cameras, metal detectors, regular anti-crime conferences as well as security staff.

But Mr Ramella admitted they have not discovered how the student was able to bypass security to bring an axe in.

He said: “We have a lot of CCTV footage to go through and we will get an answer as to how they got it in. I can guarantee we will get to the bottom of it.

“I don’t think this incident indicates it’s not safe. We put the students at the centre of everything we do and they told us themselves in a survey that they feel safe here.”

He added that the staff will learn from this incident to tighten security.

The police and college are both investigating the matter.

The four men have been bailed until Monday, March 11.