Save this page

Ambitions & priorities: Low progression schools

We fund two national schools programmes to help schools with few pupils going on to higher education – Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP) and Access to High Demand Professions (AHDP).

Widening access

SHEP supports regional collaboration between schools, colleges and universities to raise awareness of and aspiration to higher education (HE) to increase progression to HE from schools with traditionally low rates. The programme supports the Senior Phase of Curriculum for Excellence, focused on S3 to S6. The programme covers four regions:

SHEP schools for the 2019-20 cycle (see page 11-12) [PDF] lists the target schools included in the programme.

AHDP is a group of seven institutions funded by SFC to help individuals from low progression, low socio-economic or under-represented backgrounds to apply to high-demand subjects at university. The programme has two branches - REACH (access to law, medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry) and ACES (access to creative education, Scotland).

Project partners

REACH (access to Law, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry and Economics)

University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of St Andrews, University of Dundee and University of Glasgow.

ACES (access to Art, Design and Architecture)

University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh College of Art), Glasgow School of Art, University of Dundee (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design) and Robert Gordon University (Gray's School of Art).

Institution contacts [PDF]

School Engagement Framework

We are developing a School Engagement Framework which will aim to support pupils into the right destinations for them – Modern Apprenticeships, college, university, or employment – through collaborative regional groups as part of a national programme. The groups will look into all existing school engagement work in their local area to create a less cluttered and more understandable approach to post-school options and opportunities.

This work is part of our response to the Commission on Widening Access (CoWA), which recommended that universities, colleges, local authorities, schools, SFC-funded access programmes and early years providers should work together to deliver a coordinated approach to access which removes duplication.

Our aim is that the Framework should:

  • Be coordinated regionally and link to the Outcome Agreement process.
  • Focus on pupils, not schools or types of schools.
  • Aim to achieve earlier intervention.
  • Include significant consultation.

The development of the Framework is supported through our Access and Inclusion Committee. The relevant committee papers can be found here: