The Government will next week unveil plans to tighten school admissions procedures in a bid to stop middle-class parents gaining an unfair advantage.
The proposals will forcefoundation and church schools to work with councils to produce a common timetable for admissions.
The new system will be regulated by mandatory admissions forums which for the first time will be given legal responsibility for ensuring parents receive a complete list of schools locally. Currently around one in three LEAs lists its own (community) schools, but excludes foundation and church schools and those in neighbouring authorities.
This means middle-class parents can maximise their children's chances by making multiple applications. Critics say the plans do not go far enough, however. Margaret Tulloch, of the Campaign for State Education, said: "As long as you have got schools which can set their own admission arrangements there will always be the potential for unfairness."
Controversially, the new forums will be expected to require oversubscribed schools to take a share of pupils excluded from other local schools.