|Looking back on 50 years of DSP|
|The foundation stone for the DSP was laid on 25th October 1958. The association “Verein deutschsprachige Schule in Paris” was then constituted. The Department for Foreign Affairs in Bonn, the German Embassy in Paris, many voluntary private contributors, helpers from the church as well as the Austrian and Swiss Embassies played a part in making this step possible.
It was in the Avenue Raymond-Poincaré number 13, near the Trocadéro, that the very first lessons took place on November 3rd in three small rooms belonging to the YMCA. At first, seven pupils were enrolled, but the number grew to 28 by the end of the first year. There were seven teachers, including the protestant and catholic priests. The association “Verein deutschsprachige Schule” was finally constituted in autumn 1959 and the transformation of the Deutsche Schule into a “neusprachliches Gymnasium” (grammar school with emphasis on modern languages) with a branch for maths and science (“naturwissenschaftlich”) was made possible.
On 1st December the school with its three “Gymnasium”-classes moved to rented premises in a Villa at 65, rue Chauveau in Neuilly. The following year, on March 1st 1960, the primary school was established and temporarily moved into premises at 17, Avenue d´Iéna. When Wilhelmine Lübke, the wife of the Federal President at that time, visited the Deutsche Schule on the occasion of a state visit on 22nd June 1961, more than 100 pupils were there to greet her. General De Gaulle, when presenting the head of the DSP at the Elysée Palace, said: “Je suis très heureux de faire votre connaissance, Monsieur le directeur de cette Ecole Allemande. C´est une institution très importante pour notre rapprochement. Merci!”
The same year, the school moved into a Villa bought with federal funds at 18, rue Pasteur in St. Cloud. The kindergarten opened its doors to 50 children in two newly built wooden pavilions in September 1962. During the school year 1965/1966, the “Gymnasium” with nine grades was finally established. The school building was expanded with the construction of three new pavilions. In autumn 1966 enrolment at the Deutsche Schule Paris reached 460 and 30 local and expatriated teachers were employed.
The construction of a new school building and the demolition of the old villa were made necessary by the steadily growingnumber of pupils. In order to bridge the two years in which a new, large and modern building with a gymnasium and swimming pool was under construction in the rue Pasteur, the school moved to premises in Rocquencourt in 1968. In 1970, 600 pupils moved into the new building which had been planned for 450 children. This difficult situation grew even more acute in the years to follow. In 1977, the enrolment at the Deutsche Schule Paris reached its highest total with over 900 pupils. In order to cope with the onrush, every available space was permanently in use. During this time, the reformed “Oberstufe” (upper school) was introduced, a reference library was set up and the branch for the “Realschule” (mid-level secondary school) was established. From 1971/72 onward varied proficiency levels in French were offered.
In 1975, parents founded the school’s “Förderverein” (support association) and class and parents councils were introduced. Pupils could choose between the subjects Philosophy/Ethics and Religion after 1976. The average size of the classes was 40. In the 1970s, the DSP was one of the biggest German schools in the world outside Germany. In 1977/78, the total number of pupils enrolled reached its peak with 941. The focus of the DSP was to enable children of German speaking families to follow a German education and pass their “Abitur” (A-levels).
Until 1982, the DSP school enrolment stayed at the high level of approximately 800. The relocation of the kindergarten to a federally owned villa in the immediate vicinity of the school improved the situation in regard to room and pedagogy, but financial shortages were unavoidable when enrolments and therefore financial income decreased.
In the middle of the 1990s, many things were put in motion at the DSP. The music centre, the assembly hall, the swimming pool and the gymnasium were entirely renovated and the kindergarten’s outdoor grounds were newly devised. A new computer room was equipped in order to meet the changing demands of pupils and school. Furthermore, a bilingual section was introduced in 1994 and enabled geography and history lessons to be taught in French. German and French authorities gave permission to award the German Abitur as well as the French Baccalauréat.
The German-French music school was founded in the year 1998. In addition, there were German classes on Wednesday mornings for children from French primary schools. The number of total school years was reduced to twelve from 2002/2003 on. This process of restructuring should take about six years. Organisational changes that related to these restructurings, e.g. afternoon lessons, were introduced step by step. Since 2006, there is a canteen for pupils, teachers and administration staff. In 2006/2007, the overall concept of the DSP was approved.
Whilst there were 380 children enrolled at the DSP and kindergarten in St. Cloud in 1998, the total is around 300 today. The reasons for the decreasing number of enrolments are the decline in birth rates as well as strategic and location decisions of German firms. Considerably less German employees are posted in other European countries with their families. On the other hand the competition from other bilingual or multilingual schools in the western outskirts of Paris has intensified noticeably.
Since the foundation of the Deutsche Schule Paris, the pros and cons of a solely German speaking school abroad versus an “encounter” school (“Begegnungsschule”) as an instrument for German-French communication have been discussed. The history of the DSP has been affected by its efforts to acquire French children and to extend enrolment from the whole region. At the same, its aim has been to receive pupils temporarily living in Paris and wishing for a smooth transition back into the German school system whilst gaining an intensive insight into French language and culture.
This year our school has made two important steps towards the necessary internationalisation. French lessons for native French speakers and German as second language are now offered for children who come to the DSP with limited language knowledge. The new name “iDSP”, with a little “i” in front of the capital “D” and which stands for “international” takes this development into account and is significant for the future. We want to acquire new pupils in order to enable us to offer a varied and high quality curriculum.