MI5 starts screening 'free schools' for extremists


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The Independent Online

MI5 is monitoring applications to set up "free schools" to ensure they do not become a cover for teaching extreme views, the Education Secretary disclosed yesterday.

Michael Gove said that the intelligence services were checking the backgrounds of organisations and individuals bidding to run the schools, which are state-funded but independent of local authorities.

"I have been crystal clear that we should not have schools which are set up by extremists, whether they're Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists or any other sort of outrageous and beyond-the-pale organisation," he told BBC1's Andrew Marr show.

"There have been one or two disturbing cases with existing state schools where people have been trying to subvert them." Mr Gove said he had also set up a team in the Department for Education to check applications for extremist ideology and the Government was reviewing the science curriculum to ensure "there is no space for the teaching of wackoidal theories".

The first 24 "free schools" open this month.