LIFT OFF delivers the Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP) within Fife and Tayside as part of the National Schools Programme funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
Logo, text reads the national schools programme

We are a widening access initiative that supports young people from local secondary schools into Higher Education; that’s any course from a HNC to a Degree.

We work with S3 – S6 pupils throughout Fife, Dundee and Angus.

Our objective is to increase our target pupils’ aspirations and support their transition into Higher Education destinations.

In doing so we aim to:
  • Increase progression rates to Higher Education (HE) and other positive destinations for target pupils.
  • Raise awareness of opportunities to access Higher Education.
  • Raise aspiration to Higher Education.
  • Enter into agreements with partners to support achievement of aims.
  • Work with partners to develop an inspiring programme of activity.

As a partnership organisation, LIFT OFF works alongside all the Higher Education providers and local authorities in the Fife and Tayside region. Our immediate partners are outlined below:

Infographic listing LIFT OFF Partners. Higher Education providers: Abertay University, Dundee & Angus College, Fife College, SRUC, The Open University, University of Dundee & University of St. Andrews. Local Authority: Angus Council, Dundee City Council & Fife Council. Practitioners: Skills Development Scotland

LIFT OFF is also supported by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) outwith the Fife and Tayside region, most notably Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot Watt University, Queen Margaret University, The University of Edinburgh, and University of Stirling.

Our Schools

Meet the team

Headshot of Melissa Rooks

Mel Rookes

Programme Manager

I am the Programme Manager here at LIFT OFF and officially joined the programme as a Development Worker in 2014, although I did first work with the Team as a LIFT OFF Learning Skills tutor in 2013 during my Master’s degree. My educational background is in Applied, Forensic and Consumer Psychology and I studied both my Undergraduate and Master’s/MbR at Abertay University beginning my HE journey way back in 2005.

My favourite thing about working with LIFT OFF, aside from the fantastic team of colleagues, is watching our pupils grow in confidence throughout their time with the programme. It’s such a great, rewarding feeling watching them move into their next destinations after school and thinking of all of the awesome experiences and challenges they have ahead of them.

Headshot of Hannah Campbell

Hannah Campbell

Lead Development Worker

I left school in 6th year MANY moons ago, with a variety of Highers under my belt and a not so well-thought-out plan! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew I enjoyed working with people. I originally thought about teaching or social work, but ended up settling on Social Sciences, and left university with an HND, only to return and complete my degree a few years later part time while working.

Before joining LIFT OFF in 2019 I worked in Further Education for a long time, with a focus on transitions and support. I find working in education hugely rewarding, and I am passionate about inclusion and lifelong learning. Working with LIFT OFF is fab, not only do I have the support of a fantastic team, but I get to work with young people from around Scotland achieve their potential and goals!

Headshot of Julie McLaughlin

Julie McLaughhlin


When leaving school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I decided to go to college where I studied Business Administration. Since leaving college I have worked in various administrative roles.

I also went back to college and gained a qualification in Human Resources and worked in this field for a few years. I’ve now worked with LIFT OFF for nearly 12 years so feel like I’m part of the furniture! I really enjoy helping to arrange all of our amazing events for our pupils and seeing them gain so much from the LIFT OFF programme.

Mairi Donald

Development Worker

Having completed my Highers, I headed out into the world of work after S5. During this time, I completed a Modern Apprenticeship at a local nursery, gaining an SVQ3. Taking this year away from formal study allowed me to explore my personal values and I realised I had a strong commitment to social justice and fairness (particularly within our education system). Utilising the available support and knowing that I was ready to return to academic study, I applied and was accepted on to the University of Dundee’s ‘Community Education’ Course. It was during my time as a student at Dundee that I really explored the concept of widening access and participation as well as the educational attainment gap. 


I feel so privileged and committed to be part of this challenge within our Higher Education System and always look forward to meeting you all face to face! 

Image of Development Worker Shaunie

Shaunie Anderson

Development Worker

After leaving school in S6 I was unsure about what I wanted to do careerwise. I had been working in a hairdressing salon as a Saturday girl, so I applied for Level 5 Hairdressing at college and done this alongside working in the salon. After I qualified as a hairdresser, I knew that I was not passionate about the job and that I wanted to make a change. This was when I decided I wanted to go travelling and Australia was where I was headed! I spent this gap year having fun, taking on new challenges and making decisions on my future.

When I returned from Australia I went to college and completed an intense 6-month course where I gained 2 Highers, Higher Sociology and Psychology. I then studied HNC Social Sciences which, upon completion, lead me on to study MA Hons Psychology at St Andrews University. In my final year of study at St Andrews I worked on a research project centred around widening access in education. This gave me the knowledge and experience I needed to work within LIFT OFF.