Leaving Cert students who suffer a family bereavement in the run up to the exams will now be able to sit them at a later date.
The students will be given the opportunity to take alternative exams in July.
The welcome news comes in response to a heartbreaking RTÉ interview from Leaving Cert student Rhona Butler, who was given no choice but to sit the exams last year following the death of her mother.
Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on his RTÉ radio show, Rhona explained how her mother passed away on June 13 and she had to sit a business exam the next day. She then also had to sit an accounting exam just two days after the funeral.
Education Minister Joe McHugh announced the introduction of the plans, which will operate on a pilot basis this year.
The alternative Leaving Cert exams will take place in Athlone over five days, from Monday July 8 to Friday July 12.
The new rules will apply to any student who suffers a bereavement during exam time or in the two days leading up to the exams. It will allow for them to be absent for three days from the date of the death, up to and including the day of the funeral.
Minister McHugh said, “I called for the review of this issue after hearing the compelling interview of Rhona Butler with Ryan Tubridy several months ago. I want to thank Rhona again for highlighting this issue and demonstrating how we should look after and support students who have suffered a loss.
“The death of a loved one is a deeply traumatic event for any young person, which will only be compounded if it occurs in the midst of exams.”