Distinction for top achievers at secondary school

Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, secondary school pupils in the Netherlands will be given a distinction ('judicium cum laude') on their school-leaving certificate if their average mark is 8/10 or higher. The measure applies to pupils in pre-university education (VWO), senior general secondary education (HAVO) and pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO). It will be a new way of acknowledging outstanding achievement by highly gifted and talented pupils. The cabinet has approved a bill on this subject by the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, Sander Dekker.

Mr Dekker said, 'For pupils, having your success rewarded is a tremendous incentive to excel in the future. At the moment, one-third of Dutch secondary school pupils think they are not being challenged enough. The distinction is a way of encouraging gifted and talented pupils to make the extra effort and get top results.' The new measure should enable high achievers to distinguish themselves more effectively as they pursue future studies and enter the labour market.

Awarding distinctions is part of the Top Talent Action Plan 2014 - 2018. In line with the Plan, pupils will be able to attend extramural courses, complete their course more rapidly and study subjects at a higher level if they show aptitude.

It is hoped that the measures will help gifted pupils to boost their performance in secondary education and stimulate an ambitious culture of learning within the Dutch education system.