From education to employment

Natspec National Conference relocates to Manchester following hotel fire

Natspec, the membership association for Specialist Colleges, has announced a change of venue for their upcoming National Conference due to a fire at the original location. The conference had previously been sold out, but an unexpected benefit of the change to a larger venue means that bookings can now be reopened.

The fire broke out on the night of 29 April at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, resulting in significant structural damage, forcing the closure of the hotel. Fortunately, there were no injuries. After a week of uncertainty, the hotel confirmed it would not be able to re-open in time for the Natspec conference on 11 and 12 June, giving the Natspec team only 5 weeks to secure another venue.

After an extensive search, Natspec confirmed The Midland Hotel, located at 16 Peter Street, Manchester, as the new venue for the conference. The new location not only accommodates the original dates, but also offers a larger main hall and excellent transport links, which reflects Natspec’s commitment to sustainability.

The central location in Manchester is particularly advantageous, as Natspec has never hosted their conference in the North West before, which is home to a high density of specialist colleges and GFE colleges with extensive SEND provision. This change is expected to enable more local staff to attend, many of whom may join for the first time.

The move to Manchester also presents an opportunity to work with the city, which is involved in the DfE’s SEND and AP Change Programme, leading a partnership of LAs in the North West. Natspec hopes that staff involved in this programme will take the opportunity to attend and learn more about specialist further education.

Guests who have already booked their place at the conference will have their bookings automatically transferred to The Midland. Those who need to cancel due to the change of venue are asked to email [email protected]. Natspec encourages those who previously could not attend due to location constraints to reconsider, to become part of what has become established as the go-to event for FE professionals who work with students with complex needs.

Natspec acknowledges the logistical challenges posed by the sudden venue change but remains committed to delivering a successful and impactful conference. The organisation is working diligently to adjust the programme, accommodate all delegates, and ensure that the new venue meets the needs of all participants.

Commenting on the venue change, Clare Howard OBE, Chief Executive of Natspec, said:  

“Despite the challenge of moving everything at such a short notice, we are excited that the show will go on. We look forward to welcoming delegates to Manchester. I am immensely proud of the team for taking on the enormous logistical challenge that we are now faced with, and I’m also hugely grateful to our event manager Amy Cawthan from Venues and Business Solutions for securing the new venue in record time

“We have apologised to delegates for any inconvenience this change may cause, but our priority is ensuring that the conference remains a valuable and enriching experience for all attendees.

“When one door closes, another opens, and the new location not only accommodates our original dates but offers a fresh opportunity for more local participation and collaboration in the North West.”

Related Articles