MR GOVE backed a “free school” that requires pupils to practice Beatles-style transcendental meditation – joking: "I thought that would have been popular in Liverpool!"
The private Maharishi School, in Ormskirk, is among 24 of the new-style schools opening this week, sponsored by teachers, parents, charities and firms.
Switching to the state sector will allow the school to scrap annual £7,600 fees and receive government cash to more than double in size – from 80 pupils to, eventually, 180.
It is the only school in Britain where children meditate twice a day, in the belief it helps them learn, following the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, made famous by the Fab Four.
Asked whether it was fair to lavish extra funds on The Maharishi School, Mr Gove said free schools were the "Big Society in action".
And he joked: "I would have thought that a school which practises something done by The Beatles would have been popular in Liverpool.
"I, myself, am not a devotee of transcendental meditation, but the great thing about the school is that Ofsted said it had an outstanding record."
Yesterday, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the Liberal Democrats wanted all future free schools to be "in poorer neighbourhoods", amid evidence that many are in plush areas.