The 23 kids from the Islington Green School were taken to a recording studio to lay down the chorus by their music teacher, Alun Renshaw, who told the Evening Standard that he accepted the offer from the band's management because it was "an interesting sociological thing and also a wonderful opportunity for the kids to work in a live recording studio.
"I sort of mentioned it to the head teacher, but didn't give her a piece of paper with the lyrics on it."
Once the headmistress, Margaret Maden, heard the lyrics, which made the song an instant classic with students in the western world, she banned the students from making public appearances to support their work, such as television or video. The local school authority at that time called the lyrics "scandalous".
Because of the secret nature of the recording and the lack of filmed evidence of the individual students participating in the project, it is difficult to claim performance royalties for the 23 "kids".
That has not stopped royalties expert Peter Rowan, who told Reuters that he has filed a claim with the Music Royalties Society on behalf of one of the singers and is working with some of the other former students in the action. However, he has yet to track down a majority of the students involved.
In a strange turn of events, the former headmistress, Margaret Maden, now a university professor, has been enlisted by Rowan to help prove that the students were part of the recording. "We had to provide evidence to show they were part of the song and Mrs. Maden helped us with that," he said.
At the time of recording the school was paid £1,000 for the student's work. Later after the album and song had become a hit, the school was given a platinum record.
The song became a number one hit in the U.S. and the U.K., school age listeners especially embraced the song because of the rebellious lyrics. It became a student anthem for a generation.
Rowan is not going after Pink Floyd for compensation, instead is appealing to Music Royalties Society. He reportedly expects the 23 students to ultimately be paid a couple hundred pounds each.