Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.


Curriculum Links

  • KS2 History: Local history study
  • KS3 Human Geography: Population and urbanisation, Economic activity
  • KS3 Citizenship: The right to equal and fair pay

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of how M&S began trading in Leeds
  • Understanding of how a successful large business began in a very small way
  • Skills of examining archive photos to inform study of different periods in history

Discussion Ideas

  • Can you think of a present-day shop that is similar to the Penny Bazaar? Are there any near you, and what sort of goods do they sell? (another My Learning story has more discussion ideas about the  first fixed price shops)
  • The takings on the first day the Cross Arcade opened were £175, but all the staff had to be paid and the shop had to be fitted out and kept smart. What basic expenses of running a store have to be subtracted from the takings to work out the profit?
  • Are there any shops now where you are not allowed to browse? For what reasons would you not be allowed to handle the products?
  • These days the majority of shops encourage browsing - how does M&S distinguish itself from others shops today?

KS2 History:

  • A penny at the time of the first M&S Penny Bazaars was worth about 25p in today's money. How many things can you think of that you could buy for 25p?

KS3 Human Geography:

  • The word bazaar means marketplace or souk. Find out in which countries you would find a souk. Think of some words to describe shopping in a souk.
  • Why do you think Michael Marks used the word 'bazaar' to suggest his market stall was different?

KS3 Citizenship:

  • The full time wage for shop assistants in 1906 was 7s 6d a week, which was considered very good in those days. Find out what the minimum wage for young people is today, and how old you have to be to qualify for it, then discuss whether you think this is fair? (the Supporting Links in 'Resources').
  • Look at the staff photograph c.1906 - they are all women apart from the manager and one other male who is wearing a uniform. What might his job have been? Discuss whether shop assistants today are mainly male or female. Why do you think that is so?

Activity Ideas


KS2 History:

  • Look at the image showing how an artist used an old photograph as his inspiration for a painting. Find some old family photos and paint a picture using different elements from each photo as your inspiration.
  • Find out the history of your nearest M&S store using the online store finder (see Supporting Links) and look at the old photographs to see how much it has changed.
  • Find out how much it would cost today to buy each of the following Penny Bazaar items: bar of soap, wooden spoon, ruled notebook, set of buttons, packet of hairgrips


  • Carry out some research with family, friends, teachers and neighbours to find out what M&S means to them. Design your research using 'open' questions beginning with e.g. What do you think..., rather than questions that will give you a yes or no answer.
  • Make a list of modern innovative ideas that have become part of most peoples lives today - try to think of ones that have an impact on your own life, e.g. they might be apps, things in the home or something that you wear.
  • Have your own 'Dragon's Den' event in your school, with Innovation as the theme:
    - in groups of three think of an innovative retail idea
    - suggest how it could be produced and design its marketing strategy
    - 'pitch' your idea to an audience, maybe within your class or to other classes
    - get people to vote for their favourite
    - discuss the 'pros and cons' of the top five 'Dragons Den' ideas

KS3 Citizenship:

  • Use the National Archives Currency Convertor (see Supporting Links) to find out how much the wages for M&S shop assistants in 1906 would be worth today (the 1906 image of staff in Leeds has details of their wages).
    Compare this with the minimum wage for young people today - see Supporting Links.


Haberdashery - small items for sewing such as buttons, ribbons and zips
Hardware - fixtures, equipment, tools and devices for making or repairing objects or structures
Innovation - solutions that meet new needs, novelty, modernisation