Statement on the 54th annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition

It is with deep sadness that, in the light of the current situation concerning Coronavirus across the world, including in the United Kingdom, IATEFL has made the difficult decision to defer the venue and date of the 54th annual IATEFL Conference and Exhibition from Manchester next month to Harrogate from 16 to 19 March 2021.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and follows extensive consultation with a wide range of relevant bodies. The safety of delegates, exhibitors, sponsors, staff, suppliers and all others involved in the running of the conference has been our primary concern at all times.

Whilst we are aware this decision will be hugely disappointing, we are equally aware of the genuine concerns others have expressed. Our actions have, at all times, been informed by fact and guidance received. The association understands, and hugely appreciates, the fantastic contribution in time, effort and enthusiasm which many people have made towards the conference. This is the strength of our association and professional community. This should be valued and preserved.

All confirmed delegate bookings already made for the conference will be automatically deferred to Harrogate in March 2021, the new venue and date for the conference. All confirmed speakers will have their proposal automatically accepted for inclusion in the programme. As such the conference will not be a lost opportunity, but a delayed one. We hope this delay allows as many of you as possible to reschedule and join us in Harrogate.

We would also like to thank our wonderful conference sponsors and our valued exhibitors for their continued support of IATEFL and our annual conference. We look forward to providing you with a fantastic opportunity to share your exciting products and services with our delegates next March.

As you may imagine, this change comes at very significant cost to the association, both affective and financial, but we feel that this deferral is a reasonable approach which ensures all the work and content of the conference is not wasted, just delayed.

We have tried to make this decision as quickly as possible, more than a month before the previously advertised conference dates, in order for all concerned to avoid making travel and accommodation plans or, where they have, to contact the service provider and see if they are able to be refunded. The decision follows the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global pandemic, and with the UK Government having moved to the ‘delay’ stage of their response to the virus, which envisages restrictions on public gatherings. Whilst there is not currently such a ban, we have made this decision now considering the safety of delegates, staff and the association more broadly.

Our thoughts are with everyone who is being affected by this unprecedented situation. It is essential we come together as a community of English language teaching professionals in these challenging times. As an association we will be working hard to provide members, and non-members, with a wide range of professional development opportunities, including online events and publications. So much of this is dependent on the amazing volunteers who are the backbone of IATEFL. We would like to express our gratitude to them and all their hard work. We will also be focussing on planning for the 54th annual conference and exhibition to ensure it is a valuable, enjoyable and successful event.

The Board of Trustees of IATEFL.