SECRETARY of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls will be attending the North of England Education Conference taking place in Chester next week.

The three-day event, which is at Chester Racecourse and at Weatherhead Media Arts College, Wallasey, between Wednesday and Friday (January 7-9), is being jointly hosted by the University of Chester, in partnership with Wirral Council.

Former cabinet minister, Baroness Estelle Morris, is conference president at the event, which will attract delegates and speakers from across the globe.

Other key speakers include Dame Gillian Pugh, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Rev David Urquhart, Professor Sir David Watson, Dr David Colin-Thomé and Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and formerly chief in Cheshire.

For the first time the conference has been opened up to all those working within the Every Child Matters framework – education, health, social care, the youth justice system and research.

The conference learning programme is centred on workforce development, helping key partners to work together more effectively to safeguard and nurture children and young people.

The conference, which is expected to attract up to 400 leading figures in the field, is supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Teacher Learning Academy, the Children’s Workforce Development Council and the Northwest Regional Develop- ment Agency (NWDA).

Over the years the conference has launched many major initiatives including raising the school leaving age, the introduction of comprehensive schools and, more recently, the reform of secondary education.