Belfast school tackles teenage pregnancy and drug abuse with Qwizdom handheld technology

Teachers at Ashfield Girls High School, East Belfast are combating the rise of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse by opening classroom discussions with the latest handheld voting technology from Qwizdom (

[UKPRwire, Wed Mar 21 2007] Teachers at Ashfield Girls High School, East Belfast are combating the rise of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse by opening classroom discussions with the latest handheld voting technology from Qwizdom (

The school is using Qwizdom’s voting system to allow the girls to voice their opinions anonymously on these sensitive issues, removing the peer pressure and embarrassment often associated with raising their hand in front of their classmates. Significantly more sophisticated than the voting systems used in the TV programme “Who wants to be a millionaire?”, Qwizdom is currently used in over 2,000 UK primary and secondary schools and encourages whole-class participation, providing a fun way to assess students’ knowledge, via tests, quizzes and games. It also helps to reduce teacher workload with printable performance reports on each student’s results.

Lex Hayes, Vice Principal at Ashfield, commented: “The pressure that young girls feel to ‘be cool’ in front of their classmates often stops them from raising their hands or giving their true views on issues such as alcohol abuse and pregnancy. Qwizdom provides a way for the girls to voice their opinions collectively as a class without identifying individuals. This has led to a more open and comfortable class discussion. Beneath the bravado, teenagers need guidance and support on these important issues and we’ve found that this technology is a great way of understanding their values and experiences.”

The UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe¹ and the problem is particularly acute in Northern Ireland with the law forbidding NHS abortions unless there is a clear risk to health². It is therefore imperative that young Northern Irish people are properly educated and given the opportunity to freely discuss such issues. Teenage drug misuse is another growing concern for Northern Ireland, with the highest levels of solvent abuse in the UK³. Binge drinking amongst teenagers in Northern Ireland has, along with the rest of the UK, one of the highest rates in Europe*. By opening discussion in a non-threatening environment, teachers can gain an insight and deeper understanding of their students’ lives so they can better support them.

Ashfield Girls High School has been using Qwizdom’s voting system since 2005. Teachers consider that the tool can have the biggest impact in the teaching of Learning Life & Work, which encompasses Personal and Social Education (PSE), RE and Citizenship. As PSE is often taught by non-specialists and can be a demanding subject to both teach and learn, Qwizdom provides a great way to break up the lesson and add a different dimension to teaching. Quizzes and games add a fun and competitive element which can also be used for formative assessment.

Lex Hayes commented: “The system enables us to talk about important issues through real life scenarios for example, the dangers of leaving your drink unattended, walking home alone at night and what to do if offered drugs. Through class discussions we are able to offer advice about how to cope in these situations and hear how the girls currently deal with them.”

Qwizdom enables Ashfield’s teachers to instantly display the classes’ results graphically on a whiteboard or computer, thus stimulating further class discussion. The system can be used in an anonymous mode, or with a named group, individual student’s progress can also be tracked through a unique user ID feature which then determines whether certain students require extra time or help. The results are automatically collated and saved onto the system which can then be printed out, eliminating long periods of time spent on marking.

Gary Morrison, Sales Director at Qwizdom commented: “Our research shows that voting systems help break down the barrier that holds young people back when trying to express their opinions in class. It removes the fear of ridicule by peers and is a powerful tool to encourage interactivity in the classroom. It is great to see schools like Ashfield using it to help solve real teenage issues.”

For further information about Qwizdom please contact Gary Morrison, Sales Director. Tel: 02890 485 015 E-mail: or visit the web site at:


Company: Qwizdom

Contact Name: louisepeto

Contact Email:

Contact Phone: 020 8339 7430

>>Visit website