Page last updated at 19:29 GMT, Monday, 3 December 2012

Spies tasked with preventing extremism in schools

A number of former spies have been recruited by the Department for Education to ensure that faith schools do not "preach hate rather than love", Education Secretary Michael Gove has said.

At his departmental question session on 3 December 2012, Mr Gove told MPs he was "delighted to be able to say that we have set up a due diligence unit in the Department for Education to prevent extremism".

The team included "staff from the security services and elsewhere" he said, who had been tasked with ensuring that "public money is not abused" by extremists.

The secretary of state's comments came in response to a question from Conservative MP Michael Fabricant, who asked what steps he was taking to ensure that "religious hatred is not taught by some faith schools and religious teachers".

Think tank Policy Exchange called for the creation of such a unit in November 2010, voicing concerns that the education system was "not equipped" to prevent "extremist influences" in faith schools.

The think tank said the unit should vet applicants wishing to establish new academies and schools independent of local government under Mr Gove's Free Schools plan.

Earlier in the question session, Mr Gove rejected a call from Labour's Paul Goggins to include religious education in the English baccalaureate.

Such a move would enable faith schools to "uphold their ethos and parental choice", Mr Goggins said.

But Mr Gove replied: "We have no plans to change the English baccalaureate, not least because religious education remains a compulsory subject in the national curriculum."

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