Ofsted issued the damning rating after inspectors visited Cherubs Pre-School in Linton near Maidstone, Kent, and flagged the concerns.
While there was no suggestion the photographs were misused, inadequate procedures meant the children were ‘not safeguarded effectively’.
The report added, ‘Staff use personal mobile phones to photograph children at the setting, such as for observations and sending messages to parents.
‘The provider/manager lacks understanding of the risks this presents to children and does not monitor the use of mobile phones effectively to ensure children's safety.
'The provider has not identified the use of mobile phones as a safeguarding issue and does not show a secure understanding of how to safeguard children.'
In several other areas, the setting was described as good, providing a ‘welcoming, well-resourced and stimulating environment’ for the children.
The shock downgrade prompted managers Cindy and Steve Fox to complain to the watchdog, which rated the nursery outstanding in 2009. That report described the manager as ‘committed to continuous improvement of her setting and constantly reviews and monitors the effectiveness of the setting through self-evaluation and discussions with her staff team’.
An Ofsted spokesman said, ‘We judged this pre-school to be inadequate last year because children were not safeguarded effectively.
‘The pre-school made a complaint about our judgement which we considered very carefully and at length. We are satisfied that our original judgement was correct. This pre-school must ensure that children are fully safeguarded.’
Chantelle Bourne, a parent who sent her two children to Cherubs, has started an online petition calling for Ofsted to reverse the decision.
Ms Bourne claims that there was a photo policy in place, signed by parents, meaning they only receive pictures of their own children.
The petition states, ‘The report does not reflect that parents consent and value the photograph policy, the wonderful work of Cindy Fox and her long standing staff, or a school, that in the opinion of parents is a friendly, happy and safe learning environment for children.
‘The detrimental effect this grading has on the pre-school’s outstanding reputation, which has been built up over the last 12 years, and the effect it has on its funding is devastating to the school and the children of families in the local area.’
- For analysis on this story see our 22 February - 6 March issue.