Concerns expressed in Bradford that the creation of a privately-sponsored Islamic city academy could hamper efforts to improve integration are wholly justified. Councillor Phil Thornton, chairman of Bradford Council's Young People and Education Improvement Committee, no doubt reflects the views of many people when he says that he doesn't think the polarisation of different groups of people is in the interests of community cohesion.

The promotion of any particular religion should not be a function of schools. It should be left to the churches, mosques and temples to lay down the moral codes of the various religions they represent - codes which actually have a great deal in common.

Even if faith schools themselves did not actively promote a particular faith in comparison to others - and that, given the nature of faith schools, is rather unlikely - their very existence tends to create an impression of segregation.

At a time when we need to bring people together, the setting up of faith schools represents a dangerous step in the wrong direction. As former Lord Mayor Mohammed Ajeeb says, the need is rather for existing state schools to improve their integration policies.

By pursuing the idea of faith schools, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has shown herself to be out of touch and out of date. She needs to think again about the damage she will do to the country by going down this route. It would be far better if those businesses which are willing to back faith academies supported local schools generally to help all of them to improve the standards of secular education they are able to provide.