More parents who submit placing requests are having them turned down by local authorities. Figures released by the Scottish Executive show that a little over eight out of 10 requests (82.2 per cent) are granted.
The percentage accepted by councils has been falling steadily from a peak of 90.1 per cent in 1990-91. The chief reasons in more than 80 per cent of refusals are overcrowded classrooms and constraints on staffing.
Every year around 31,000 requests to pick schools outwith catchment areas are received, the bulk for entry to primary schools. Around 37 per cent of requests are for secondaries.
Fewer than 1 per cent of requests (176) were for early entry to primary but parents of 2,337 children have taken advantage of changes in the rules on age by deferring entry to P1 until their children are older. Many feel that at the age of four and a half their children are too young to be mixing with children a full year older.
Research consistently shows that many pupils never catch up with older peers and suffer because of their immaturity.