Wealthy parents "cheat the system" to win places for their children at the best schools, by moving house, employing tutors, or sending children to extracurricular activities such as music or drama, according to a new report.
The Sutton Trust report, entitled "Parent Power?", showed that almost 32% of professional parents have moved to an area with better schools, while 18% have moved to live in the catchment area of a specific school.
It said that more than 68% of professional parents paid for extra activities, compared with 31% of low income parents.
Sir Peter Lampl, Chair of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, said admissions to the best schools shouldn't be "just for those who can afford to live nearby".
He recommended the use of ballots to ensure fairer admissions and vouchers for working class parents to spend on extra tuition, books and cultural activities for their children.
The trust also called on schools to publish socio-economic data on applications and admission.