Cancellation of Annual Conference, Bournemouth 2020

We regret to say we have decided to cancel our conference in Bournemouth.  The National Officers have made this decision today, 13th March, after an extensive discussion following a report from the Joint General Secretaries.

We reached this difficult decision because:

  1. We believe that many delegates would have chosen not to attend and that those not attending would be drawn disproportionately from vulnerable groups and also from those with caring responsibilities for children and vulnerable adults. As such we feel that the conference would not have been truly representative.
  2. We think that the nature of the conference environment, more than 1,500 delegates and guests from all regions and nations, in close quarters in an enclosed building for more than 4 days would have an elevated risk of creating a virus spreading event. In turn this could have led to many activists and staff being self-isolated and/or ill at the same time.
  3. We examined the possibilities of holding a smaller conference during the same time but decided that none of the options available would be viable, therefore we have asked the staff to prepare a paper on how we hold a conference at a later stage in the year. We will keep timings of this under review – but are currently asking the JGS to look at the possibilities for a one-day conference early in the Autumn term.

The National Education Union is now cancelling the bookings for the venue, digi-voting, audio visual support and related conference matters and is seeking to recoup money wherever possible.

We would urge districts to seek to cancel hotel and travel booking as quickly as you can – in case you are able to recoup money.

This was a very hard decision for us to make, but we are confident that it is the right decision, made now to put an end to uncertainty and worry in the minds of our delegates.

Cancellation costs

Following the cancellation of annual conference, I know most of you  have already been in touch with hotels to cancel your accommodation. Depending on the speed with which you cancel and the contract you entered into, hopefully you are able to recover all or most of the money committed. If you booked through the Business Events Bournemouth website and haven’t already contacted them to confirm your cancellation, please do so as soon as you go by emailing them at

Annual conference was insured against cancellation, as all our large events are, but unfortunately there is an exclusion clause for all these types of insurance for ‘communicable diseases’, which means we won’t receive any reimbursement.  You may be in the same position.   

We are working with all our suppliers to mitigate cancellation charges and I’m pleased to report most are taking the longer term view, rather than charge all they can contractually.

The officer and JGS group will be looking at solutions for some form of conference to be held later in the year. When we have more details, we will give them to you. If you experience financial difficulties in paying for accommodation and expenses for a limited autumn conference as well as the 2021 annual conference  there will be a mechanism in place to support you centrally at this time.   It is likely however that any conference later in the year will for a limited time and districts will not face the costs normally associated with annual conference.

Annual conference agenda

NEU Annual Conference agenda 2020