I thank the office of the Ceann Comhairle for selecting this matter. I hope the Minister of State has put in for overtime, because he is putting in long hours today. We are lucky in east Cork, because Youghal has a good secondary school, Cobh has two, Midleton has four and Carrigtwohill has two, although one is in temporary accommodation. They have extraordinary staff and professional and caring principals. The education and training board, ETB, does a good job. The difficulty is that, every year, all of these schools are oversubscribed, mainly because of double, triple or quadruple applications from parents. This leads to a situation where, when places are offered, there are extremely long waiting lists. They fall off as time goes on and people choose schools. Just today, I had calls from three parents whose children were high on waiting lists in some schools already.
I acknowledge that the Department of Education has done great work over the years in making resources available to these schools. We have new buildings in CBS Midleton, St. Coleman's College in Midleton, in Youghal and at a new school that is about to start construction in Carrigtwohill. The Minister of State might arrange for information to be provided to me about when shovels will be on the ground. It is all ready to go and planning has been done. One can imagine a child in sixth class in primary school where all of his or her friends have places and he or she does not. That child then goes home to ask his or her parents what is wrong and why there is no place for him or her. Many kids are still not sure whether they will have places, despite the great work that principals are doing.
We need to ensure that schools get extra resources to provide extra classes. I know St. Coleman's already has one of those for 24 students, but I do not think that is enough. We need to expand the schools more. We also need to talk about a new second level school in east Cork. Given that Carrigtwohill's second level community college has taken 12 years to get to this stage, I contend and hope that people from the Department of Education are listening that planning for a new second level school in east Cork should start soon. The schools there are at breaking point.
I want to ensure that, when and if the schools take on extra students, they do not have to wait until the following September to get resources. They should get the resources this September. I also point out that many Ukrainian teenagers have moved into the area. They are welcome and it is great to see them. I am delighted that we are able to help and support them, but they will need extra school places. I emphasise the need for action by the Department to support the schools. Perhaps we need a common enrolment system such as there is in Limerick. I am not sure if the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is aware of this. The Minister of State might be. There is a central application system for secondary schools, so there are not waiting lists. There is clarity for parents about where their children are going and they do not have to apply to three, four or five schools.
I want the Minister of State to pass on the message that when schools take on extra students next September, they need the resources to match. Extra classes need to be made available as required so that every child has a school place. We also need to look at this system so we are not here again next year making the same points. I know my colleague in the constituency who is here, Deputy Buckley, would have a similar concern.
Long-term planning for a new second-level school in east Cork needs to start now.