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Leader promises to listen to the party debate

Tests, selection and the continuing privatisation of education will be among the topics to be debated at next week's Labour party conference in Bournemouth.

Tony Blair is expected to use his keynote speech to say there can be no retreat on the reform of education and other public services.

The Prime Minister will also promise he will listen and consult more on future changes after criticism over the handling of university fees.

Fringe meetings at the conference will see teachers' unions locked in debate with education ministers over subjects including school funding and the performance of black pupils.

Highlights include the National Union of Teachers' meeting on "Targets and Tests or Trust?" where delegates can expect different perspectives from David Miliband, school standards minister, and the Welsh education minister Jane Davidson.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Charles Clarke will face calls to end pupil selection by secondary schools, such as specialist colleges.

David Chaytor, a member of the Commons education select committee and Labour MP for Bury North, said he would be making the challenge at a meeting on the future of comprehensives.

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