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M&S advert ‘puts two fingers up to spirit of Christmas’, says headteacher

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A prominent headteacher has said she feels “deep disappointment and outrage” over Marks & Spencer’s Christmas advert showing celebrities destroying their least favourite parts of the festive season.

Katharine Birbalsingh, an education reform campaigner who has been labelled Britain’s strictest headteacher, called for the advert to be taken down as she claims it “puts two fingers up” to traditional Christmas values.

Related: M&S Christmas ad goes for glamour to win over budget-conscious shoppers

The advert, “Love Thismas not Thatmas”, features the singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Queer Eye’s Tan France and the Ted Lasso actor Hannah Waddingham burning cards, throwing away games and putting festive hats into a snow cannon.

In a strongly-worded letter to the supermarket posted on X, the headteacher of Michaela community school in Wembley wrote: “I feel compelled to write to you to express my deep disappointment and outrage at your Christmas advert for 2023.

“You have a duty as our national department store to keep the spirit of Christmas alive for the sake of our children … I run an inner-city school in London, where we try hard to instill values of decency daily in our children.

“When Marks and Spencer puts two fingers up to these values, it makes our lives as teachers much more difficult and it stifles social mobility and happiness for our children, in particular for the disadvantaged.”

The former chair of the government’s Social Mobility Commission tells the store it should be creating “heartening adverts celebrating the values which Scrooge comes to embody.

“… May God, or Allah, or Vishnu take pity on you!”

Last month, Birbalsingh was honoured at Buckingham Palace with a CBE for services to education.

In response to her complaint, one person wrote on X: “I bet you’re fun at the Christmas party.”

Another wrote: “You don’t describe what you find wrong with it? 3/10 could try harder.”

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