Giuliettaexpat tells us about the Lycée International of Saint Germain en Laye, that her daughters attended for three years before moving to California.
The fame of Saint Germain en Laye, a beautiful little town west of Paris, is undoubtedly linked to its International School that welcomes a high number of foreign students annually.
The school was initially founded in 1951 to offer a multicultural education to the children of military personnel of the Allied Powers. Eisenhower wanted staff, destined for Roquencourt, to live in the pleasant Hennemont Castle where the school was established. During those times there were 1500 army officers of 13 nationalities with their families, and thus a very lively international community was created.
In 1962 the Ecole International de l’Otan (elementary school) became the Lycée International de l’Otan (elementary and secondary school). In 2012 the Lycée celebrated its 60th anniversary with its 13 national sections (American, British, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Danish, Swedes, Norwegian and Polish) with its 58 nationalities. It is for a school, undoubtedly unique in structure with incredible richness.
The international atmosphere
The international atmosphere, that permeates through the school all year round, is particularly noticeable during festive celebrations when distinct parts of the school family compete to present their gastronomy and their à tous: the Christmas party at the Lycée that sees the end to the school year. Then, you will see stands that offer gastronomical specialities from all over the world. All outstanding, you will find lasagna and tiramisù alongside a good expresso.
Classes are from pre-school to secondary school. French is the common language for basic subjects typically included in the French curriculum, and every section teaches in its own language from 6 to 8 hours a week at preschool, primary and middle school with 8 hours for secondary school. During school time, pupils study exactly as they were in their home country, their language, history and literature.
Teachers are native speakers and are appointed by their respective countries. Its richness and diversity reside in this melting pot of languages and cultures that share the same structure and interact under the guidance of a common language, French.
The Lycée International of Saint Germaine en Laye is a French public school. Teachers are on attachment from the French Ministry of Education and French programmes are those studied in all schools in France. The sections can be
- public, like the German one, no contribution is required of the families,
- public but with a contribution required of the families, like the Italian section,
- completely private like the American section.
Entering a particular selection to the Lycée International of Saint Germaine en Laye is based on the student’s background after a test in the language of the section they wish to join. It is quite difficult but avoids disappointment and difficulties to students who wouldn’t normally be able to follow a bilingual programme of such a level with more hours than the regular French school, and with a very heavy workload, especially at secondary school level.
In order to welcome a high number of young children in every section at pre-school and primary school, kids sometimes access the Lycée as externés (externals). They go to the Lycée only two half days per week in the national language (one morning and one afternoon), and the rest of the time they attend one of the pre-school or primary schools in the Saint Germain en Laye area that know how to handle classes with children that go to the Lycée. Usually, when students are at the Lycée, no basic subjects are followed in their class so as not to penalize the “international” children that are absent that day.
For middle school, there are some schools linked to the Lycée International that host some sections a at Saint Germain en Laye:
The Marcel Roby School, two sections, an American and Spanish ;
the Collège les Hauts Grillest, with 5 international sections: Chinese, English, Italian, Polish and German;
The Collège Pierre et Marie Curie has 4 sections: English, Portugues, Spanish and German.
At secondary school all students go to the same historical seat of Hennemont Castle.