Hyde and Seek: 'There were practically no toys and nothing on the walls' - teacher quit after one day
A Montessori teacher who was hired by Anne Davy to work in Hyde and Seek told how she left after just one day because of how it was run.
Dubliner Ciara Dignam (30), who has worked in numerous childcare facilities, said she made a complaint to Tusla about one of the branches after her experience there in 2016.
Ciara said she has now stopped working in the industry after bad experiences in Hyde and Seek and other places
"I thought this was going to be my career. I love kids and have been minding kids babysitting since I was 12 years old," she said.
She said while she has worked in good facilities, she also encountered problems in many places and now feels the State should step in and provide childcare rather than leave it to private industry.
"We're trained to do the best for the children and encourage and develop their skills. If you have the right amount of staff you can do it.
"You can have an organised team and get everything done. It's just a lot of places won't spend enough on staff and are only concerned about making money."
Ciara spent a week at Anne Davy's Tolka Road crèche - which at the time was operating as Giggles - while on work experience in transition year and said she didn't enjoy it as she felt it wasn't being run well.
She later trained to be a childcare professional and in 2016 applied for a job with Hyde and Seek, not realising it was being run by Davy.
"I went back years later for an interview because I thought it was under new management - but it was Anne again," she recalls.
She said Anne told her she could be a Montessori teacher at the Millbourne Avenue branch, Drumcondra.
"I was told I'd have my own class and be with the kids. I thought it didn't matter that Anne was still running it because I could do what I wanted in my own class."
However, when she arrived for her first day it wasn't what she expected.
"I went up and there was nothing there. There were practically no toys and nothing on the walls. If there were books they were up high and out of reach for the kids. We learned in college that everything has to be child friendly and accessible. It's not up to the teacher to boss the child around.
"I asked Anne where my equipment was and she said I had to look after all that myself. She left then. There was an empty room upstairs with just table and chairs. I was talking to the kids, but then other workers there were trying to get me to run around doing jobs for them.
Read more here: Complaints flood in over Hyde & Seek after exposé
"Then 2pm came and so many after-schoolers arrived in hordes. Kids were just being constantly dropped off until the place was packed. All the Montessori kids were just put in a corner and all the other kids were screaming and running around like mad. I just stood there and couldn't comprehend what was happening."
Ciara said she felt there weren't enough staff to deal with the kids and the younger kids were basically put in a corner. She decided there and then that she didn't want to work in Hyde and Seek and told other staff she was walking out.
"One of the other girls said 'you can't go, you have to help us.' I left the place crying.
"I complained to Tusla over the phone. I rang them straight away and asked to be updated about it. They sent me an letter back saying we will keep you updated, but I never heard back from them again. I said I was telling everyone about this but nothing was done."
Ciara said Hyde and Seek was not the only place she experienced problems. She said other places had major staffing issues, with too little staff in charge of too many children.
"When I went out to one the place was in bits. There was a girl on her own with so many babies around her. She was so busy she couldn't even change nappies because she didn't have time. Another girl just lay on the floor with kids running around her because she couldn't take it."
She said she worked in another place where she went to turn on a heater during a particularly cold winter.
"It was really cold. I went to put it on and the other girls said 'you can't do that, it's only for inspections as it costs too much to put on'."
Other issues she experienced at places she worked included staff members being shouted at in front of kids.
"Kids aren't stupid, they're little recorders and witness everything. They're easily manipulated. So people will say, 'aw you didn't see that,' or 'we wont tell mammy this'.
"I think the whole sector needs an update. At the end of the day a lot of them do just see themselves as a business and they're making big bucks from it.
"Why are private businesses involved? We were told in college that 0-6 is a crucial age when their brain is developing and any sort of trauma then can damage them emotionally in the long term. They need love and nurturing. You can't just treat them like cattle."