In some areas of England, close to one in five youngsters are missing out on their preferred option, while in others almost all get the school they choose.
A survey using figures from 43 local authorities outside London reveals that just over 27,000 children (11.3 per cent) have been refused a place at their first choice primary school for this September.
If these figures were replicated across the country, it suggests as many as 68,000 children could be missing out on a favoured place, given an average year group of 600,000 pupils.
The survey also reveals that a child’s chances of gaining a place at their first choice depend on the area they live, with as few as five per cent and as many as 20 per cent, missing out in various parts of the country.
Figures published by the Pan London Admissions Board last month, which are not included in the survey, revealed that 21 per cent of youngsters in the capital did not get their first choice primary schools for this September.
Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of parenting website Netmums, said waiting to learn what school their child will attend is very difficult for parents.
“It’s extremely stressful for a parent seeing their child not get their first choice – more than anything you put yourself forward for, you can take that on the chin.
“But with this, it does feel like your child is being rejected, so it becomes very emotional.
“If you can absolutely demonstrate that it (admissions) has been done fairly it’s easier to cope with, but there always seems to be someone who can tell you ‘so and so got in’.”
Ms Freegard said she would recommend that parents who do not get their first choice of school stay on the waiting list, as children can drop out and they may still get a spot.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “There simply aren’t enough good schools. The best are many times oversubscribed – forcing parents to send their children to weaker schools which lack the academic standards and good behaviour they demand.
“Children only get one shot at education which is why our reforms are designed to deliver higher standards and genuine choice for parents”.