I received emails from two Brummies desperately concerned about the controversy sweeping the second city's schools.

With fears of an Islamist "takeover" of some Birmingham schools by militant school governors, the first correspondent demands "much more clarity in what defines a state school funded by taxation". He wants the bonds of our multicultural society strengthened through education. "No uniforms chosen by one section of society. No public money on religious visits."

The second correspondent, by contrast, positions the controversy within the context of "the change through generations of the composition and governance of schools in inner-city areas which have large Muslim populations". He points to the success of some Birmingham schools as being dependent upon "a recognition of Muslim identity – making the pupils feel more at ease at their first public institution".

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