A headteacher drafted in to save a failing school cannot stay permanently because he is not a Roman Catholic.

The religious rule governing Seaford’s Annecy Catholic Primary School has led to outrage from parents who say the policy is “unfair” and “contradictory.”

They say Jon Reynard, who was called in to improve standards after the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted, should be allowed to remain in his post.

A Seaford parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s completely contradictory and unfair.

“The school is the only one in the catchment area not full to capacity. “Children are allowed to attend if they are not Catholic.

“Mr Reynard has been fantastic for the school. Our children are happy under his leadership and are progressing well.”

But the Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton said the policy is recognised in law.

The school was rated inadequate in every category, except behaviour and safety of pupils, while under the leadership of ex-headteacher Fiona McGonigle, in an Ofsted report last October.

Mr Reynard was called in to mirror the success he had already achieved as head at Seaford Primary School.

He was made executive headteacher of both schools and reports by the education regulator said progress was being made at Annecy.

Mr Reynard told The Argus he was touched by the high praise from parents but stressed he knew the conditions of the post from the start.

He insisted he had not been asked to leave the school and would remain in post for the near future.

He said: “I’ve come in to help the school improve, which it is, and hopefully get it up to a good standard at its next Ofsted inspection in September or October. We don’t know exactly when.”

Maggie Prout, chairman of the school’s board of governors, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

In a June meeting she said appointing a Catholic headteacher was already being discussed.

A diocese spokesman said: “To maintain the clear Catholic character of Catholic schools the Bishops of England and Wales have stated that the posts of headteacher, deputy headteacher and head of religious education are to be filled by baptised and practising Catholics.

“The Diocese expects all Catholics schools in the diocese to follow this policy.”