A Hove vicar has criticised fellow clergy, governors and parents for abusing the demand for places at church schools.
The Rev Stephen Terry, of New Church Road, Hove, called for the system to be reformed.
His letter, published in the education section yesterday, said: “I have become increasingly alarmed at the subterfuge, double standards and straightforward lying to which parents feel they have to resort to gain a place at what they think is (but often is not) the best school for their child.
“It is not, however, just down to manipulative parents and governors – the clergy involved with voluntary aided schools often collude, giving an entirely false impression that if you don’t bring your children to St X’s and turn up to help at church events, you needn’t bother applying.
“Many parents fall for this line.
“This adds to the exclusion of children with special needs, as parents often feel reluctant to attend church with a child who may misbehave.”
Mr Terry, who has been a parish priest for 35 years and chairman of the governors at church and council-run schools, added: “The current legal position, which allows faith schools cynically to work the system, is a nonsense both ethically and morally, and urgently needs reform.
“I would encourage all who have suffered because of it or who have seen others do so, to sign up to Accord, which has already proved itself an effective and responsible lobby group for change.”