Dr. Dieter Köpper: The German School Barcelona­ – Tradition and Future

The German School of Barcelona (Die Deut­­sche Schule Barcelona DSB) was found­ed in 1894 and has a firm place in the educational world of Barcelona and Ca­­talonia. Many former pupils be­­long to Bar­­­celona’s economic and po­­litical-cultural elite. To mention just a few names: Jor­­di Pujol, President of Catalonia from 1980 to 2003, the famous ar­­chitect Oscar Tusquets and his sister, the successful publisher Esther Tus­­quets. In addition, there are numerous entrepreneurs and managers who were former students and now work in leading positions in German, Spanish and multi-na­­tional companies resident in Cata­­lo­nia, as well as a large number of doc­­tors and lawyers who have graduated from this school. Some families are already in their third and fourth generation as loyal customers to our school.
From tradition to the present day: In 1975, the school moved to Esplugues de Llobregat, into a new, spacious school building with modern sports facilities. The school can be easily reached from both the city of Bar­­celona itself (using public transport) as well as other places such as Cas­­telldefels or Sant Cugat via various bus services.
In the 2008/09 academic year, there are about 1,400 pupils enrolled at the DSB; these break down across the different departments as follows: kin­der­garden (nursery school) 225, primary school 350, higher school 835 (with about 60 attending the secondary school branch and the rest the Gram­­mar School). Currently the nationalities comprise the following: approximately 26 per cent have only the German nationality, about 32 per cent being only Spanish, 36 per cent both German and Spanish, and around six per cent are of another na­­tio­nality. What is it that makes this school so special?


The DSB is a bi-cultural, although we should really say at least tri-cultural, “meeting place”: Pupils, teachers and parents from Spain or Catalonia, Ger­­many or other countries all meet here, bringing with them their different ideas, norms and values. This is where the huge dividend lies for all at the school, as it enables them in everyday school life to broaden their horizons, question their own views on life, when mixing with pu­­pils who have different behavioural pat­­terns and values. Furthermore it is es­­sential that the DSB’s final exams are fully recognized in both Spain and Ger­­many. This means that they can stu­­dy in Germany and Spain (without hav­­ing to take part in the Spanish “selectividad” or selection process).
Meeting – it is not without reason that the school works hard at following the “meeting place” school concept – is an integral part of every moment at the school, but it is also true for timetables and lessons: On the one hand, there are German subjects, German de­­mands, German guidelines, German final exams (the equivalent of British GCSE and “A” levels), and on the oth­­er hand, Span­­­ish subjects corresponding to Spanish guidelines and educational culture (Span­­ish, Catalan, Span­­ish social sciences).


The final exams however are subject to the uniform German exam policies.
The educational focus is on conveying scientifically orientated and problem-solving behaviour, in other words to learn how to learn. This means in all like­­­lihood having to learn less off by heart than in the Spanish system.

In a more united Europe and an in­­creas­­­ingly globalized economy, the DSB gra­­d­­uates have a priceless ad­­van­­tage: They have grown up sub­mers­ed in a diversity of cultural values from different societies, but nevertheless with their roots still within each of their own cultures, the key difference being an open­­ness for others. They command seve­­ral languages: German, Spanish, Eng­­lish, French and/or Catalan. This opens a wide variety of paths to our pupils for their future with a combination of these linguistic and cultural skills.

In order to prepare our pupils for stud­­ies and careers, the school fosters a net­­work of contacts and cooperation: Bayer, BASF, SEAT, Roche, Lufthansa, ABX-Logistics, Círculo de Lectores, Sa­­turn-Mediamarkt, LIDL and ALDI, but al­­so TV3 and La Vanguardia or the Ins­­titut Químic de Sarrià, all send em­­ploy­­ees to offer study and careers ad­­­vice as well as trainee positions. More­­over, we work closely with German uni­­ver­­sities, particularly the TU9 group – an amal­gamation of German technical uni­­versities.


A further very important partner is ASET Barcelona (Asociación Hispano-Ale­ma­na de Enseñanzas Técnicas), a state-ap­­proved vocational training centre in Barcelona, which offers a bilingual dual commercial training and a dual business bachelor degree.
The German School is both a German and Spanish state-approved private school as well as an independent business run by a school council. It is fi­­nanc­­ed on the one hand by the fees paid by parents, and on the other hand by the Republic of Germany, which supports this school both financially and with personnel – through sending us 26 teach­­ers.

The school offers German families, wheth­­er resident in Catalonia or who only live and work here for a limited time due to their work contracts, but also Spanish and Catalan families who have an affinity to Germany, forward-looking edu­ca­tion,all the way from nur­sery school to “A” levels. The num­­ber of children wishing to apply for a place in the Kinder­garden is about twice as high as the number of places available.

All who are involved with the German school continually strive to maintain its high standard of education, and at the same time, are ready to meet new chal­­lenges and developments in our changing world.

DSC_1857The autor studied German Philology and History. He attained his PhD in Modern History. From 1979–1994 he was a teach­­er at the grammar school Sö­­derblom-Gymnasium, from 1993–1999, deputy head­­master of the German School in Athens, afterwards headmaster of the grammar school Königin-Mathilde-Gym­­nasium in Herford. Since 2005 he has been the headmaster of the German School in Barcelona.