Employers and councils back last-ditch TUC drive to rescue scheme that has helped a generation of workers fulfil their dreams

Ann McKelvey enjoys her job as a cover supervisor at the Co-op academy, a secondary school in Leeds. She loves the school, where she has been since 2013, and working with young people, but deep down she has always wanted to be a teacher. “The problem was I didn’t have A-levels,” she says. “And I suffered from impostor syndrome, always coming up with 101 reasons why I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to.”

Everything changed in 2016, when McKelvey was offered the chance to do a literacy taster course called Return to Learn, provided by her union, Unison, in conjunction with the union learning fund (ULF), a national government-funded partnership between unions and employers. “I really enjoyed it,” says McKelvey. “The tutor hadn’t gone to university until he was 40. I looked at him and thought, ‘Well, he’s been there, done it’. That inspired me to think I could do the same.”

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