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Pupils paid compensation after exam hall accident

The duct which fell from the ceiling at Minster College in May 2009
The duct which fell from the ceiling at Minster College in May 2009

All but two pupils injured when a heating duct fell from the ceiling of a school sports hall have settled their claims for compensation.

The solicitor representing about a dozen families seeking compensation for trauma and injuries cause by the accident at the former Minster College said she expected the two outstanding claims to be settled within the year.

Sarah Harman, from Harman and Harman Solicitors, said the pupils and their families were “generally happy” with their settlements and that Kent County Council, as the local education authority, had admitted responsibility.

But Ms Harman refused to divulge how much each pupil had received.

She said: “Compensation is paid according to the degree of the injury, and some that have been settled were small claims because, fortunately, the injuries were mild.

“In the two outstanding cases, the injuries were more serious.”

The pupils will not be able to access the money until they are 18.

The pupils were among 157 sitting their SAT exams in the sports hall on May 12, 2009, when the wire rope suspension apparently failed and the heating duct plummeted to the ground.

They suffered injuries including cuts, bruises and shock.

Six were taken to hospital for treatment although none was kept in overnight.

Speaking at the time of the accident, pupil Sam Stickings told how he was caught up in the drama.

At 8.30am he went into the hall to sit his exam and noticed the air vents were making a “cracking” noise, which he had never heard before.

He thought it was just the wind.

Twenty minutes later he heard a loud bang which he thought was somebody slipping off a chair.

Pupils started to move out of the way and a few seconds later the air duct came crashing down.

Sam described seeing it like “it was all happening in slow motion”.

Part of it landed on the desks and a larger part of it landed in the aisle between the desks.

Pupils were screaming, getting up and running and trying to help their friends.

Sam got up and tried to help his friend who appeared to have been hit by the duct.

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