By Macer Hall

FORMER MI5 spies are being recruited to root out Islamic fanatics in schools, Education Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday.

Ministers are understood to be so worried about the influence of Muslim preachers of hate and other extremists in the classrooms that a new unit has been set up.

They have recruited former members of the secret service with expertise in the Islamist terrorist threat to investigate.

Mr Gove is concerned that comprehensive schools and the Government’s new generation of “free schools” may be targeted by extremists.

Whitehall sources confirmed that a “due diligence unit” with former MI5 staff had been set up within the Department for Education to probe for extremists in schools.

Mr Gove insisted that he was determined not to allow anyone to establish a “free school” which are designed to be formed by local communities and funded by the Government. All applicants to set up the new educational establishments, which are free from local council control and can be run by parents or voluntary groups, would be vetted by the new investigation unit.

He said: “I’ve been crystal clear we should not have schools set up by extremists whether they’re Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists or any other sort of outrageous and beyond-the-pale organisation.

“We’ve set up a unit within the Department explicitly to monitor anyone who comes forward with a proposal for extremism.

Mr Gove also said believers in fringe scientific movements such as “creationism” which rejects Darwin’s theory of evolution were banned from setting up schools.

“More than that, we are reviewing the science curriculum, the national curriculum overall, to make sure there’s no space for the teaching of wackoidal theories.”

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