An education catch-up programme for young disadvantaged students is being looked at by Government, the Tánaiste said tonight.

Leo Varadkar said there is a risk of losing a generation of young people because of Covid, with education disrupted and strains on mental health.

Addressing a Young Fine Gael conference he said education can help to provide greater opportunity through this crisis.

He told delegates there needs to be a support programme for students in the summer months so they can catch up on missed learning and development.

"I will work with colleagues around the Cabinet table to make this happen. The catch-up programme will ensure that no matter what the student's background they can fulfil their potential," he said.

Mr Varadkar referenced a similar approach in the UK where one-to-one and small group tutoring is already taking place.

"This is something I would like to explore with my colleagues in Government and I have already spoken about it to Ministers Foley and Harris," he said.

The Tánaiste added that it was great to get all students back to schools but learning support is still required for "disadvantaged children in early years settings" this summer.

In relation to further and higher education, he said that Minister Simon Harris was doing a lot of work on antigen testing in colleges and universities.

"We want to see as many students back on campus in September and I know he’ll do everything possible to make that a reality. Let’s never have another fresher’s week online," he said.