The number of appeals by parents whose child has been refused a place at the school of their choice has risen by 160 per cent in six years.
Unveiling the official figures, shadow education minister Stephen Byers claimed they revealed "the extent to which this Government has deceived parents" with its promise to provide a choice of schools for their children.
In 1994-5 there were 54,427 appeals against non-admission, an increase of 18 per cent on the year before. Of the 38,000 cases considered by a statutory appeals committee, fewer than 15,000 were decided in the parents' favour. The remaining 23,000 rulings upheld the local education authority's refusal of a place at the first-choice school.
The figures also show there were a total of 227,623 appeals against non-admission since 1989-90.
Mr Byers said the Tories "promised parents they could send their children to the school of their choice - yet the reality is quite different.
"The Government has deliberately sought to raise the expectations of parents, leading many to believe that they had a right to send their child to any school they chose."