It was hoped the ballot would give parents fairer access to the city’s over-subscribed schools.
However Gil Sweetenham, Brighton & Hove’s assistant director of school support, conceded the council was braced for negative press after many were not allocated places at their closest school.
Only 78% of parents’ first choices was granted, compared with 83% last year although 96.5% of pupils got a place at one of their three preferred schools, up three percent on a year ago.
Ms Sweetenham said: “To have an allocation of 96.5% of places is a very high figure. I don’t think there will be many authorities that match that.”
Under the council’s system, six catchment areas were designated, of which four had a single secondary school, supposedly the logical choice for parents living there. It was only to decide attendance at schools in two further areas, each with an over and under-subscribed school, that the lottery applied.
Michael Gove, shadow secretary of state for children, schools and families, said a future Tory government would scrap the allocation of places by lottery.