Tens of thousands of families may not be getting their first choice school
Almost one in 10 parents in England applying for a primary school place for their child is missing out on their first choice, a survey suggests.
In areas such as Kent and Birmingham, an even higher proportion is not allocated their preferred school.
It suggests the anxiety about finding secondary school places has now filtered down to primary schools.
The survey was carried out by the Press Association, based on 42 out of 150 local authorities.
This is the latest in a series of warnings about shortages of primary school places.
If the results were extended to all 150 local authorities, up to 60,000 families could be missing out on their preferred school.
It suggests a patchwork pattern of shortages, as local population shifts and changes in the birth rate have pushed up demand in some areas beyond the capacity of schools.
This latest survey highlights how much the situation can vary in the same region.
In Newcastle, one in eight families missed out on their first choice - while in Sunderland, only one in 25 did not get the place they wanted.
Earlier this year a report by London Councils said there would be a shortfall of 2,250 places in London primary schools this coming year, and highlighted the need for temporary classrooms to accommodate extra pupils.
In Brighton, parents have formed a group campaigning for more school places after more than 200 children did not get the place they wanted.
Commenting on this latest survey, Margaret Morrissey of campaign group Parents Outloud, said: "I'm sure the government will argue that these figures are actually good, but I don't think any child should be missing out on their first choice of primary school.
"If they miss out there, then they are going down a slippery road to nowhere.
"They are in an environment that their parents did not choose for them."
A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokesman said: "The vast majority of parents get their first choice of school - showing the system works.
"There will always be popular, oversubscribed schools with more applications than places but parents have more choice because there are more schools rated as good or outstanding than ever before - this means that children will still get a quality education even if they get their second or third choice."