Seven years ago, one in 24 admissions (4.2 per cent) involved an appeal but by 1998-99 that proportion had risen to just over one in 11 (8.7 per cent). This equated to 53,739 appeals in a single year.
"Given that local authorities suggest that between 90 and 95 per cent of parents get their first choice of school, he number appealing is almost equal to all those whose first preference is not met," says Chris Taylor, a Cardiff University researcher.
Middle-class parents were once considered more likely to appeal but some admissions officers told Taylor that this view was outdated. "We get terribly scrappy notes, so it's not necessarily the most articulate people who are submitting appeals," one said.