HOW much weight should school rankings data have on a parent or guardian's decision about their child's education? And where does that data sit in relation to other less tangible measures such as reputation, subjects, special support, teaching staff and other extra-curricular offerings?

They're tricky questions; ones which anyone with children will, at some stage or another, have to grapple with. For some, it's not a matter of choice. Whether it be for economic reasons or geographic ones (as in, their residence falls within the catchment of a particular school), there are many people who simply do not qualify for the luxury of having a choice in their child's education.

In Gladstone, thankfully, that's not too great an issue. If the scores shown in The Observer print edition and also at are anything to go by, then our kids are in good hands.

All schools have their strengths and challenges. All schools have room for improvement. But in the end a student's development and preparedness for the big bad world at large is all dependent on the support and encouragement they get in their formative years. There are plenty of kids at the best schools in the country who are dwelling precariously on the cusp of the rest of their lives without a clue about where to go or what to do next. It needs also to be said that there are so-called bad crowds, bullies, undesirable influences, cliques, disengaged and incompetent teachers - you name it - at every school in varying degrees, just as their is good in every school.

Kids will do best when they are supported and nurtured, their learning styles are taken into account and they are exposed to engaged and constructive mentoring. That's what counts above everything else. That's what we have to get right.

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