Nearly one in four children starting primary education had a placing request made to a school outside their local catchment area, according to Scottish Executive figures. Ninety per cent of requests were granted.
The statistics show that 31,000 families made placing requests for primary and secondary schools in 2003-04 - down 1 per cent on 2002-03. A total of 86 per cent of all requests were granted, against 82 per cent in 2002-03.
"Accommodation constraints" were cited in 59 per cent of refusals in primary schools (excluding early entry) and 61 per cent in secondary.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, the Conservatives' education spokesman, said that more than 3,000 children in Scotland are still denied their choice of school.