Lack of co-ordination of admissions procedures by neighbouring schools and adjacent education authorities is another headache for parents.
Market forces mean that schools and authorities are now in competition with each other for pupils instead of co-operating.
"It's a total mess," commented Lucy Mathen, who lives in London. "Islington has told us we have to give three choices, but Camden says if we express a first or second choice in any other borough, it will invalidate our choice in Camden. Parents living on the borders of two authorities, as we do, risk getting a place at a school which no one else wants if we choose a school outside our area." The family's nearest school, Islington Green, is now only taking pupils from within a one-mile radius since its meteoric rise through the league tables.