Schools cannot refuse to admit children until they have reached the published standard number for their annual intake. They can admit over this number. In practice 'desirable' schools can usually fill their quotas from first priorities. The situation in London where the large Inner London Education Authority has been replaced by much smaller London Borough based LEAs and the outer boroughs were always independent LEAs, is more complicated, but geographical prioritising is the de facto norm and is very generally applied.
Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996