Most of us agree that secondary school is one of the most important parts of a child's life, but not all secondary schools are equal.
Some schools far outperform others when it comes to various statistics, so Reach Plc has once again compiled our Real Schools Guide to definitively rank every school in Hillingdon from "best" to "worst".
The survey has taken into account all non-private secondary schools in the borough and ranked them on the basis of a specially designed and weighted 50 data-point system.
Here is how The Real School's Guide collated their information:
The unique rating system uses 50 different measures, put together from the latest publicly-available data and broken into four categories - attainment, progress, attendance, and outcomes.
National league tables may only look at overall GCSE results, as well as newer measures.
This is worth 30 per cent of the total score. It is based on pupils' average grade attainment score, including what the average scores for different groups of pupils were, as well as the proportions gaining the English Baccalaureate and those getting A* to C grades in GCSE subjects. It measures whether a school is getting top marks, and if it is managing to improve year-on-year.
This is worth 40 per cent of the score. It is based on how well different types of pupil do in terms of progressing. It also looks at things that may contribute to teaching outcomes, such as how big the pupil/teacher ratio is in comparison to the national average, as well as teachers' average salaries.
This score is based on absence rates, looking at both overall levels of sessions missed as well as unauthorised and persistent absence at the school. It is worth 15 per cent of the total score.
This is also worth 15 per cent, and is based on what proportion of pupils continue with education after Year 11 or go on to training and work.
Schools that had no Year 11 pupils taking GCSEs in 2017 are not rated.
We've looked in detail at the three lowest ranked and the three top ranked.
21. Hewens College - 2,965
Hewens has fallen a long way from past glories. Last year its overall rating was four starts and it came eighth locally and 902nd nationally.
This year it is the "worst" school in Hillingdon and 2,965th out of 3,088 schools in the guide.
Attainment 8 at the school is 31.8, while the national average is 49.9 and Progress 8 is -0.72, with the national average set to 0.
In 2017, the most recent results available, 36% of pupils at Hewens College gained at least 5 A* to C or 9-4 grade GCSES including English and Maths at 9 to 4. Nationally 61.3% of pupils achieved this.
20. Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC - 2,883
In 2016/17 there were just 205 pupils at the university technical college which offers technically oriented courses focusing on aviation engineering, maths and science.
In 2017, the most recent results available, 39% of pupils at Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC gained at least 5 A* to C or 9-4 grade GCSES including English and Maths at 9 to 4. Nationally 61.3% of pupils achieved this.
The school's Attainment 8 is 37.9, well below the local 47.1 average and national 49.9 average.
19. The Harefield Academy - 2,786
One-star Harefield Academy has moved little since last year's ratings after being told that it requires improvement by Ofsted inspectors in 2016.
The school's Attainment 8 score is 38.6, compared with the local 47.1 average and national 49.9 average.
Progress 8 is also very low at -0.85, but Progress 8 for the disadvantaged is even lower at -1.45.
Around 86% of those leaving the school stay in education, below the national 91% average.
18. Parkside Studio College - 2,600
17. Park Academy West London - 2,215
16. Harlington School - 2,020
15. Oak Wood School - 1,960
14. Bishopshalt School - 1,590
13. Uxbridge High School - 1,331
12. Haydon School - 1,294
11. The Douay Martyrs Catholic School - 1,005
10. Barnhill Community High School - 837
9. De Salis Studio College - 715
8. Ruislip High School - 661
7. Bishop Ramsey Church of England School - 609
6. Northwood School - 422
5. Queensmead School - 421
4. Rosedale College - 388
3. Vyners School - 375
Last year's ratings had Vyners at second in Hillingdon and 158th in the country, but the Ickenham academy has slipped a little since then.
Still, with an impressive third place ranking and a five-star rating in every category, there is a lot to be positive about.
Attainment 8 scores are 55.1, a full eight points ahead of the local average of 47.1 and above the national average of 49.9.
In 2017, the most recent results available, 84% of pupils at Vyners School gained at least 5 A* to C or 9-4 grade GCSES including English and Maths at 9 to 4. Nationally 61.3% of pupils achieved this.
The school has 14.8 pupils per teacher, comfortably below the national average of 15.6.
2. Swakeleys School for Girls - 262
Swakeleys achieved an overall five-star rating and was ranked second in Hillingdon ans 262nd in the country.
That's not bad for a school with around double the number of pupils eligible for free school meals.
The girl's only school's results are all well above average.
In 2017, the most recent results available, 71% of pupils at Swakeleys School for Girls gained at least 5 A* to C or 9-4 grade GCSES including English and Maths at 9 to 4. Nationally 61.3% of pupils achieved this.
1. Guru Nanak Sikh Academy - 34
Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Sprinfield Road Hayes is the second best school in west London and the 34th best in the country according to our Real Schools Guide.
Incredibly, 91.5% of pupils at the academy do not speak English as a first language, and yet in just one year the school has gone from ranking 772nd in the country to 34th.
In 2017, the most recent results available, 80% of pupils at Guru Nanak Sikh Academy gained at least 5 A* to C or 9-4 grade GCSES including English and Maths at 9 to 4. Nationally 61.3% of pupils achieved this.
The latest figures, from 2015/16, show that not only did 100% of pupils remain in further education, but that 0% of them "dropped out" in the first three months.