School pupils' anti-smoking films 'make the cut'

"We're really proud of what the students have been able to achieve in such a short time and hope that they can now see themselves progressing onto university in the future."

Lily Randall, Higher Horizons+ Network Officer

School pupils from Stoke-on-Trent have created a series of short films to help tackle smoking in the city.

Year 9 and 10 students from Thistley Hough Academy and St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy were challenged to create the two-minute long films as part of a smoking awareness project called 'Make the Cut'.

'Make the Cut' is funded by Higher Horizons+ and delivered in collaboration with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire University. The project aims to tackle the high rate of young smokers in Stoke-on-Trent while introducing students in the area to university study.

Councillor Ann James, Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader, and cabinet member for health and social care, said: “Helping people to stop smoking is a key priority for the city council, especially as we have a higher percentage of smokers in Stoke-on-Trent compared to nationally. Smoking significantly increases the risks of a range of diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (sometimes called emphysema).

“In addition, high rates of smoking impact on the health of the local population and economy, costing around £80 million a year in lost productivity, healthcare costs and smoking-related fires. 

“Make the Cut is an excellent way to raise awareness of the impact and dangers of smoking among young people, and I hope the project receives the success it deserves.”

The schools were invited onto campus to use Staffordshire University's specialist media facilities and were mentored by film students throughout the process of scripting, shooting and editing.

Ben Burgess, a Year 10 pupil from Thistley Hough, said: “Using the camera kit is something that we would never be able to do usually. I enjoyed all of it. It feels really good that we're going to see our films on the big screen.”

Classmate Jaden Marr added: “I was nervous at first but once we came onto campus then it was great. I probably wouldn't have had the chance to make a film anywhere else.”

VIPs, parents and teachers have been invited to a premiere of the short films hosted by Staffordshire University later this month. The pupils' work has also been entered into the national anti-smoking festival Cut Films 2018.

Lily Randall, Higher Horizons+ Network Officer, said: “Higher Horizons+ funds a range of activities to promote routes into university for students in Y9 - Y13 across Staffordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire.

“It was fantastic to see the students taking charge of their own ideas and learning new, university-level skills. We're really proud of what the students have been able to achieve in such a short time and hope that they can now see themselves progressing onto university in the future.”

There is a range of support available locally, including face-to-face help and advice, the 'Smokefree' app, quit kit, email and text programme. For more information go to, call 0800 085 0928 or text 'smokefree' to 60777.


Amy Platts
Multimedia Press Officer
Marketing and Public Relations
L600, Flaxman Building
College Road
t: +44(0) 1782 292702
m: 07799341911