Secondary schools in Bradford where the ethnic balance is shifting fast between Asian and white pupils face "an almost impossible challenge", says a governors' chairman.

In last night's Ouseley Lecture, the second in a series of six at Bradford University to take forward the debate on racial segregation, Dr Donna Pankhurst said there were three types of schools in the city.

Both white monocultural schools and Asian monocultural schools were in a "comfort zone" with little pressure for change, she said.

But those secondary schools that were mixed faced the biggest challenge, and there was very little relevant expertise among teachers and head teachers to handle it. Where the Asian/white balance was one third to two thirds the problem was the biggest of all because the 'minority' group - whichever it was - felt strong enough to assert itself.

"You need very sophisticated teaching and leadership skills and it isn't common to have these skills in schools - if you don't, it's an overwhelming challenge," said Dr Pankhurst, who is a lecturer in Peace Studies at the university and chairman of governors at The Grange School in Little Horton.

The presentation was called Challenges for Secondary Education in Bradford and used the example of The Grange, a predominantly Muslim school which has successfully clawed its way up school league tables.

Headteacher John Player described how the school "was in trouble" in the early 1990s, but managed to establish a strong ethos of mutual respect, gaining the trust of pupils and their parents. With this in place the school was in a position to drive up standards of achievement by target setting with each pupil, at an early stage, rather than leaving it until their GCSE year. Exam results have risen dramatically.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle), who was in the audience and contributed to the debate afterwards, said Bradford could learn from The Grange School and said people should be thinking "How do we create such an ethos for the city?"

Dr Pankhurst, who has been a school governor at The Grange for ten years, said the most successful education authorities nationally - including Birmingham, Leicester and some London boroughs - were ones where policies to promote inclusion went hand-in-hand with a big drive to up standards.

"Historically in Bradford we have had neither, but now Education Bradford seems keen to learn from other authorities, which is positive and heartening," she said.

There were "nuggets" of good practice in Bradford schools which had developed in spite of, rather than because of, Bradford education authority, but the lessons needed to be shared more widely.