The British Section

The Lycée International St Germain-en-Laye & Partner Schools


History of the School

Lycée Chateau The Lycée International was created in the early 1950s as the school for the children of military personnel working for SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe). The founding principle of the school was to combine an education in French with teaching in another language represented by the various nations forming part of NATO. The Château d’Hennemont, which had provided accommodation for both German and Allied forces during the Second World War, now took on a fresh lease of life as an international primary school – a role which it continued to fulfil until the early 1990s.

When France pulled out of NATO in 1966 and SHAPE moved to Belgium, the new Headmaster, Edgar Scherer, found himself with drastically reduced pupil numbers and only two national sections left (the German and the Dutch). The school was duly reorganised and redefined as a state lycée whose vocation was to educate the children of ‘moving people’ (both French and foreign) and also to take in local French children with the capacity to attain a high standard in one of the other languages taught in the school.

By 1968, four other national sections (including the British Section) had been restored or created and others then followed at regular intervals. The last section to be created and which operates at all levels of the school was the Japanese Section, in 1993.

Shortage of space led certain sections to develop classes in other local French schools, known collectively as the ‘network’ (reseau). This movement began with the Collège des Hauts Grillets in the 1970s. The British Section then started classes in the Collège Pierre et Marie Curie in 1981 and added primary classes in Le Pecq some seven years later. As a consequence, nearly 40% of British Section pupils are not on the main Hennemont site.

The Collège Pierre et Marie Curie was completely rebuilt in 2000/2001 and the Lycée International benefited from an extensive rebuilding and refurbishment programme in the early 1990s. This gave the school two new buildings: a primary school bringing all the junior and infant classes under the same roof for the first time; and the Agora building at the centre of the site which houses an international library and resources centre, the canteen, a cafeteria and the school hall. Partial renovation of the Château followed a little later and provided the school with a purpose-built amphitheatre accommodating 160 spectators where most plays are staged.

The Lycée International was one of the first schools in the world to offer the International Baccalaureate (the IB). In the early 1980s, however, the French Government decided to develop their own international version of the French Baccalaureate (the OIB) and to use the national sections at St Germain as a means of developing and testing the new examination. As a result, all the twelve sections are now offering the OIB, whose existence is seen as a unifying force within the school. St Germain remains (and by a long way) France’s principal examination centre for the OIB.

There are nearly 2200 students on roll at the Lycée itself. If one adds the children who are externés and those in the partner schools, then almost 4000 young people are now following a bicultural education in the St Germain area.