M&S Making a Mark - Michael Marks

Discussion ideas

This page suggests ways in which old and new images can be used with different subjects, as prompts for classroom and homework activities.

KS3/4 Citizenship

  • Talk about the experiences you think Michael Marks might have had from the time he decided to leave Poland to arriving in England. 
  • Which countries are people fleeing from today to escape persecution and how might their experiences be similar to those of Michael Marks? This link to Sayed's Story is about leaving Afganistan and gives an insight into a young man's experience in this century. 
  • Do you know about the funerals of any famous people? Why would they be remembered?
  • In what ways are funerals different today from the time of Michael Marks' funeral?

  • The letters of Mrs Davies and Mrs Ashton Hill show how fondly Michael Marks was remembered. How would you like to be remembered?

KS3/4 Enterprise

  • What motivated Marks to succeed - firstly in getting to a new country, and secondly in setting up a business there?
  • Which people do you most respect for their achievements and why?
  • What would you like to achieve in your life?
  • What sort of business would you start?
  • What would you need to do to get started? Make a list of things you think you'd need to do, and then put the list in order of priority.
  • The 'unique selling point' (or USP) of Marks' Penny Bazaar was that everything cost a penny. What would your USP be?
  • Most businesses need 'capital' to get started, find out what this means.   
  • How would you monitor the quality of your goods and make sure that your customers were happy?
  • Look at the M&S Penny Bazaar and First Department Stores resources to find out more. What was shopping like before browsing became a normal part of buying things?
  • The photographs on this page are of Brixton and Manchester M&S stores. Why were these cities good locations to open up new stores?
  • What activities can you do now that are 'free admission'? 

KS3/4 History

  • Where have people emigrated from in the past and why? For example in 1880 a painter called Joseph Staniland painted a picture called The Emigrant Ship, (see the link below) showing people leaving England to go to America. How different is that to today?

  • Use the links below to find out what life was like, and what else was happening, at the turn of the 20th Century?

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