After much uncertainty, the Government has moved to deliver clarity to tens of thousands of Leaving Cert students over this year's State exams. The Cabinet Education Sub-Committee signed off on a plan which answers some questions, but many others remain. 

This is what is in the proposals that are now being considered by teachers' unions.

What’s in the plan?

Leaving Certificate students will this year have the option of receiving a calculated grade or a written exam in each subject.

But we need to stop calling them calculated grades and start saying 'accredited grades'. That's the new term.

Students will be able to opt to receive calculated or accredited grades in any or all of their subjects, to be issued to them at the same time as the examination results.

What about the non-examinations assessment components, such as orals and practicals?

For those choosing to take the Leaving Certificate exams, orals and other practical coursework assessments will go ahead, but with "certain elements" not running for public health reasons. We don't know as yet which elements will be excluded.

The Department of Education says oral exams will take place during the Easter break or in the days just after.

But for those opting for accredited grades, work that has gone towards preparing for a non-examinations component will not be taken into account. The ASTI says it is disappointed with this. 

What’s the story with calculated grades?

You mean 'accredited grades', surely? 

They will be overseen by the State Examinations Commission, unlike last year.

But like last year, this year's process will begin with a teacher awarding marks and end with a national standardisation process.

Like last year, a school's previous performance will not be taken into account in calculating grades for this year's students.

Measures will be put in place to enable out of school learners to avail of calculated grades, whether that is students who have been entirely homeschooled or students who have been studying just one or more subjects independently of their school.

Legislation will be drawn up to, if possible, prohibit the release of any ranking of students for the purpose of awarding calculated grades. The unions say they have secured a commitment that teachers will not be required to rank their own students.

The legislation will also enable the State Examinations Commission to award calculated grades, and it will prohibit the canvassing of teachers by students or any person on their behalf. Legislation is also planned to provide indemnity for teachers, schools and school patrons.

When will the written exams take place and what will they be like? 

The exams are scheduled to start on 9 June, though the Government said this is subject to public health advice.

The full timetable for the written examinations will be published on Thursday by the State Examinations Commission.

It is planned that students in the very high-risk health category will be given access to the examinations.

Certain modifications have already been introduced to allow students more choice in the question they will have to answer on a paper. Those modifications remain.

And the results?

The Department of Education has said it is imperative that results be issued in a timely manner to allow students to progress to the next level. The results of both exams and accredited grades will be released at the same time.

How about the reopening of schools?

Nothing firm has been announced yet. However, the Education Minister said the Government will have a "cautious" return to school for Leaving Cert students in early March, requiring an approval on public health advice.

What about the Junior Cert?

The Junior Certificate exams have been cancelled for this year. The department said that schools will be provided with guidance on continuing to engage this year group in online learning and assessment during the period of school closure and through in-person learning when schools reopen.

So much for what we know. But there's a lot we don't know.

Students want to know the concrete dates for submission of coursework. 

They want to know the exact dates for the oral exams, and they and their teachers will want to know exactly how those orals will be conducted.

They want more detail on the process of choosing between calculated grades and the exam.

Teachers and students will want more detail on how the initial teachers’ marks for accredited grades will be arrived at.

The Government says it is its intention to provide clear information and guidance to students regarding the approach to examinations this year.

One final burning question for all concerned is; when will Leaving Cert students and their teachers be back together in the classroom?