More than a third of parents have failed to get their child into their first choice secondary school in Birmingham for the coming academic year.
Nearly seven per cent of pupils transferring from primary to secondary school did not get a place at any of the six options they put on their admission form.
Last week marked the end of a long wait for parents across the city who discovered which place they have been offered under the council-administered system.
More than 14,000 11-year-olds living in Birmingham are set to start at a city secondary this September. Of these, 65.3 per cent were offered their first preference, meaning nearly 5,000 (34.7 per cent) did not.
Of those who did not their first preference, 12.5 per cent got their second, 6.5 per cent their third, 4.2 their fourth, 2.6 their fifth place and two per cent their sixth. The rest did not get any of their preferences.
The National Union of Teachers claimed families had been misled into believing they could select a school by politicians who talked the language of choice.
"This is chickens coming home to roost for politicians national and local," said Bill Anderson, deputy general secretary of the Birmingham NUT.
"Those that have peddled the line over the years that parents have a choice of school without spelling out what they really have is a preference are paying the price."
Mr Anderson claimed the Government had created a hierarchy in education by allowing different types of schools to flourish which meant parents with the "sharpest elbows" benefited most.
"This is the consequence of a failure to address the questions of social and educational opportunity in the past and allowing people to think there is free choice rather than what really exists," he said.
Parents who are unhappy with their school offer can appeal against the decision.
Last year there were 821 appeals heard out of the 15,794 Birmingham resident youngsters transferring to city secondary schools, 42 of which were upheld.
Birmingham City Council said every Birmingham pupil transferring to secondary school in the city was offered a place.
Parents wanting help with school admissions can gain free advice by text under a mobile phone service offered this week to all O2, Orange, Vodafone and 3 users.
Called ACE, they should text the word ADMISSIONS to the Ask ACE number, 68808. Families can also obtain advice at www.ace-ed.org.uk