Unveiling the official figures, shadow education minister Stephen Byers claimed they revealed "the extent to which this Government has deceived parents" with its promise to provide a choice of schools for their children.
In 1994-5 there were 54,427 appeals against non-admission, an increase of 18 per cent on the year before. Of the 38,000 cases considered by a statutory appeals committee, fewer than 15,000 were decided in the parents' favour. The remaining 23,000 rulings upheld the local education authority's refusal of a place at the first-choice school.
The figures also show there were a total of 227,623 appeals against non-admission since 1989-90.
Mr Byers said the Tories "promised parents they could send their children to the school of their choice - yet the reality is quite different.
"The Government has deliberately sought to raise the expectations of parents, leading many to believe that they had a right to send their child to any school they chose."