Next year's Leaving Certificate students will be granted more choice and more time in State exam papers to compensate for the loss of learning they have suffered, the Minister for Education has announced.

Norma Foley said an advisory group comprising teachers, students, the State Examinations Commission and other education partners had agreed the adjustments at a meeting today.

The accommodations on offer to next year’s students will be similar to those announced for the class of 2021 in August and December of last year.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, the minister said that while there will be no change to the length of the exams or to the overall structure of papers, "there will be greater choice and greater time for students to tackle exam papers".

She said this was "to ameliorate and to compensate for loss of learning" and that the adjustments would vary from subject to subject. Using the example of English Paper II, Ms Foley said that students would be given a greater choice of poets to write about but fewer questions to do.

Provision will also be made for a second running of the exam later in the year to cater for students who were unable to sit the main exams to be held as usual in June.

Latest coronavirus stories

Asked whether calculated grades would again be made available, the minister said that while there are no plans at present for calculated grades in 2022, it was an evolving and fluid situation and nothing could be ruled in or out.

Minister Foley said the Department of Education had put in place significant orders for CO2 monitors for classrooms, and that "they will be in place for the reopening of schools" in September.

Earlier this month the department announced plans to fund the provision of C02 monitors for school classrooms.

The devices are seen as a key measure to tackle air quality in classrooms and prevent the airborne spread of the virus. They indicate when windows or doors should be opened in order to improve air quality.

"Anything that is required for schools will be provided", she said.

Yesterday's letter from the National Public Health Emergency Team to the Minister for Health warned that "a high level of transmission in late summer could have significant impacts on the reopening of schools and the tertiary education sector in Autumn".

Asked about this and the fact that many young teachers are not yet vaccinated, the minister said the forecast in relation to the rate of vaccination of young people was "very positive".

She added that the vaccination of children is is a "matter for public health and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee."

In relation to the advice given by NPHET, Minister Foley said: "Everyone would prefer that we didn’t receive modelling that was as bleak and as negative as we received yesterday".

She said: "The Department of Education has been engaging and continues to engage with public health in terms of mitigation measures and anything that is required will be put in place".

The minister also announced plans for a pilot scheme which will see small schools form clusters to work together for their future sustainability.

The Department of Education is now inviting applications from schools for participation in the scheme.