Up to 14 children are fighting for each place at top primary schools, a major audit shows today.
It found that some catchment areas stretch barely 100 metres from the main gates.
Children living only a minute's walk away – often on the same street – are being rejected. The figures also show that 50 per cent of secondaries are now oversubscribed – compared with 43 per cent three years ago.
Experts said a failure to build enough schools, a baby boom and immigration had created a 'perfect storm' for the education system.
The audit reveals:The smallest catchment – at a Somerset primary – is just 93 metres At the most oversubscribed primary schools, just 7 per cent of applicants, or one in 14, receive a place For sought-after secondaries the figure is 8 per cent, or one in 12 Homes near popular primary schools typically cost £55,000 – or 18 per cent – more Up to 93 per cent of secondary schools and 88 per cent of primaries are oversubscribed in some areas.
Susie Thomas with her children Max and Philbe who both got into St Andrewís Primary which has Britainís smallest catchment area
The data was obtained by researchers who submitted hundreds of freedom of information requests to town halls and schools. Children living more than 93 metres from St Andrew's Church School in Taunton were rejected for this September's intake.
At St Augustine's Roman Catholic primary in Middlesbrough infants more than 140 metres away were refused. And at Oakgrove School in Milton Keynes applicants living more than 150 metres away did not receive a place. All three schools were rated good by Ofsted, rather than outstanding.
At a primary school in the historic town of Taunton, children who live just 100 metres from the school gates will miss out on a place this year.
The farthest-away pupil admitted, based on distance, to St Andrew's Church School this month lives 93 metres from the site, according to Somerset Council. While it is a Church of England school, it does not prioritise children of faith, which makes it even more extraordinary that its catchment area is so small.
Instead, it grants places to children in care – known as 'looked-after children' – first, then siblings of current pupils and then children who live closest to the school. It holds a 'good' rating from Ofsted.
Artist Susie Thomas, 37, (pictured above) is delighted her daughter Phoebe, four, will follow her older brother, Max, seven, by starting at St Andrew's next week.
She said: 'We live very close to the school but we didn't take it for granted we would get in.'
The problem is not confined to high-density cities or exclusive boroughs.
The top ten smallest catchment areas include schools in Torbay in Devon and Stroud in Gloucestershire, as well as in Chester and Widnes.
The data did not include faith schools, some of which may have even smaller catchments. Most schools admit children in care first, followed by pupils' siblings before handing out places on the basis of distance.
Although the proportion of secondary schools that are oversubscribed has risen since 2014 for primary schools it has fallen – from 47 per cent to 43 per cent last year.