12 parliamentarians, hundreds of English UK members, and 20 years of English UK
20 May 2024

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12 parliamentarians, hundreds of English UK members, and 20 years of English UK

We are delighted so many members joined us in London this May for our parliamentary reception and our members' conference, both of which were bigger and more popular than ever.  

Around 85 members, guests and 12 parliamentarians joined us in the House of Commons to launch our new English UK manifesto for the next government. Thanks to members inviting their MPs we were joined by Conservatives including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Steve Tuckwell and Sir Roger Gale, LibDem Wera Hobhouse and peers from across the Lords. 

>> View the parliamentary reception photo gallery

>> View the members' conference photo gallery

Parliamentary Reception – what they said about us 

Andy Carter MP opened the event with warm words for UK ELT. 'Having spent all my life in business… I cannot tell you how important it is finding people in small businesses and small factories who spent some time in the UK learning how to speak English.  

'There are so many examples of factories in Portugal or India or China where I got introduced to the factory owner and then the son or daughter who had spent a week or two weeks in London or a week in Stratford and a couple of weeks on the south coast. Their English was brilliant and they acted as my translator and did such a wonderful job so it is a real pleasure to come and speak to you as an industry, on behalf of someone who has used your services on so many occasions. I wanted to say thank you to you - you made my life so much easier and helped my business and so many other businesses in the work they were doing.'

Urging members to use the manifesto to lobby MPs, he said: 'Everyone is listening at the moment – that only happens every four or five years and they will welcome the opportunity to listen to you.'

He added: 'The role you play in delivering such a vital service is often underestimated - not only the work you do for the businesses like i used to run but you are the soft power bit of pushing GB around the globe I want to thank you for the work that you are doing.' 

ELT an important part of the international education strategy says minister 

Minister for Exports Lord Offord was also complimentary, saying that 'without question' exports would soon become more about services than manufactured goods 'and that's where education comes in. Put this in context… education is worth £26bn, heading for £35bn with good growth. It's a big sector for UK jobs. Thank you for being part of that push, and key to that is the English language.' 

He added: 'I was in Glasgow a few weeks ago and the students were coming out of the lecture theatre… international students from all over the world having a brilliant time, here for the next three or four years getting a degree and making lasting memories, having fun and a good feeling about the country they are learning in. Over the next 30-40 years they are likely to be leaders in their countries and … have something in common which is their experience in the UK.'

Noting the contribution made by ELT to local economies, he said: 'Communities receive these benefits not only for the jobs in teaching and management but also from attendees' spending. It is no surprise ELT is an important strand of our international education strategy.'

Members' conference – gradual growth and 20 reasons for hope 

Next day around 170 English UK members joined us in person with a further 50 online for our members' conference and AGM. Highlights included the presentation and a panel discussion of the 2024 statistics – 'a story of gradual growth'. 

Chief Executive Jodie Gray, revealing that it is the 20th anniversary of English UK, outlined 20 reasons for hope for the industry. These included that business was the best since the pandemic and more evenly distributed, that the association was again on a stable financial footing, and about our 'human-sized events for all' under the StudyWorld banner. CPD, campaigning and commitments to inclusivity and sustainability were also mentioned.  

There were also presentations on English UK's public affairs, Access TEFL and a new accommodation survey before keynote speaker and leadership expert Diana Osagie took to the stage to urge the audience to 'take the action you need to truly recover yourself.'

'Give yourself permission to move on. Step away from playing over and over in your mind.  

Dial down the criticism and dial up the praise and your life will change. Say to yourself what you are waiting for someone else to say to you.' 

Shoko Doherty, new chair of English UK said there had been a great level of engagement. 'I think they are optimistic and excited and their achievement in the last 12 months have shown resilience. We can make a difference when we work together on lobbying.' 

What members thought 

Sally Trevor of Brunel University found the parliamentary reception 'a great opportunity' to speak to her MP. 'He was incredibly helpful and offered us several opportunities for support which is very much appreciated so a massive thanks to English UK for organising that and everything you do to support ELT ion the UK.'

Faeza Afzal of The London School of English was at the conference for the first time. 'I came to learn and listen and I have grown. It's important for us to connect with each other and take moments to see what's working and not working and I really enjoyed it.' Talking about the plenary, she added: 'That session was about looking after yourself – if you aren't how can you look after anybody else?'

New member Ali Almushawwat of Yorkshire College said: 'It was brilliant – everything was amazing. We got a lot of connections here and there was a lot that was useful to us.'

Special thanks to our sponsor LanguageCert and our parliamentary reception host Stephen Hammond MP.






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