The initial concept for a German school in Sydney dates back to 1986. The first meeting of the “German-Australian School” team takes place in April 1987.
In August, the “German School Johannes Gutenberg” association holds its inaugural meeting. The work focuses on creating the formal basis for the school. The search for a location is difficult and the planned start date of February 1988 needs to be postponed.
The search for a location for the school takes a lot of time. Plans for construction in Chester Hill are developed and other sites in Bellevue Hill and Maroubra are investigated. The option of cooperation with the French School is first discussed.
The school association is dissolved in May and the company “German School Johannes Gutenberg Limited by Guarantee” is founded as its successor.
After the decision to close Prospect Public School at the end of the year, the Department of Education is willing to let the facilities to the school. With an imminent start, Hannelore Klatt is employed as the first teacher.
Teachers and parents renovate the classrooms in January, and the school is opened on February 6 by the German Consul General Dr. Berninger.
Teaching starts the next day with three teachers and 28 students across six classes (Kindergarten to Year 5) – without any books, initially, as they only arrive at the end of February.
This year has a lot of “firsts”, including the newsletter and school fete.
While the lessons have commenced, the search for a more permanent home for the school continues.
The new school year starts with 54 students, nearly double as many students as the year before.
It is in May that the possibility of using the property in Ryde is first discussed.
An association for the promotion and support of the school is founded with the aim to raise funds from the business community.
Jürgen Koch is the first principal seconded from Germany to lead the school.
During the second half of the year plans for a move to Ryde become more realistic. In order to finance the school buildings a leasing company is set up. Local businesses are approached for funds to purchase school equipment and a new bus.
During the summer holidays, the existing building in Ryde is renovated and the school buildings are erected. When the school starts at the end of January, 79 students call the new school their home.
At the end of the year, new school buildings are required to cater for the increasing number of students.
The Preschool is opened in a new school building.
Despite the rise in student enrolments, the financial situation of the school is difficult – once more local businesses are asked for donations to keep the school running.
The school now has a band and a drama group.
For the first time the school has a Year 10 and more than 100 students are now enrolled.
In the second half of the year, the building in Junction Street is leased. Renovations and preparations are made for the Preschool. Together with Year 10, the Preschool moves into the new rooms.
After years of setting up and growing, the school settles into a routine – as much as any growing school can have.
For the very first time students of Years 9 and 10 can sit the German exams. Dr. Stoldt, an examiner from Germany, conducts the oral part of the exams.
Reaching this milestone, Jürgen Koch completes his role as principal and returns to Germany at the end of the year.
Karl-Hartmut Holzwarth takes on his duties as the school’s principal.
During the year, the plans for a Eurocampus, together with the French School, start to take shape. In addition to a committee, there are reciprocal visits at all levels: students, teachers and board members. The Eurocampus in Manila is visited to gain insight and learn from their experience.
The meetings with the French School intensify and the planning for the Eurocampus continues.
The school has now established a pattern of events, which include Clean-up Day, the Ryde School Spectacular, athletics competition, project weeks, school fete and the final exams in Years 9 and 10.
For the first time a class is so big, that it has to be split: 31 students are divided into class 1a and class 1b.
For its 10th anniversary, the school hosts a gala ball at the Hotel Intercontinental.
The positive mood of the anniversary and the expectations for the school’s future are rudely interrupted at the end of the year: the Eurocampus project is cancelled for financial reasons and there is widespread disappointment among the school community.
Klaus Steinmetz becomes the new principal. The disappointment is put aside and plans for the future are laid out. Important decisions are shaping the school’s future: adapting the school year to match the German school year, the introduction of the International Baccalaureate and a project for the school’s long-term location.
In order to adapt to the German school year, the school introduces two shortened school years – both only three terms long. This creates big challenges for students as well as teachers.
The school has now grown to over 200 students.
The search for a permanent location for the school seems to come to an end: a school in Epping with 20 class rooms and labs is up for sale.
Despite investigating all options for financing this purchase, there are insufficient funds – another big disappointment as another bidder gets the property.
In order to cater for the growing student numbers and in preparation for the IB, the school purchases the property at 72 Belmore Street in December.
A couple of parents renovate the new building and prepare it for use as a library and computer lab. In recognition of Irmtraud Buys’ dedication, the building is named “Irmi’s Cottage”.
After many unsuccessful attempts, the school finally finds a location and is successful in the auction: the property in Terrey Hills is ours!
More good news: the IBO accredits the school for the International Baccalaureate, which means that the first class can start with the IB in July.
The school changes its name to: German International School Sydney.
With the introduction of the IB, the student numbers increase further. Two new class rooms are erected next to Irmi’s Cottage.
In August, the winner of an international competition, to find an architect for the new location, is selected and presented to the school community.
The first group of students leaves the school with the IB Diploma. They have still sat the IB in English only.
The plans for the new school in Terrey Hills start to take shape (on paper) and the development application is submitted.
The school has a record 239 students – a number only surpassed in 2009.
The first group of IB students in the bilingual program leaves the school.
After some difficulties with the development application for Terrey Hills, the school wins its case in court – we can finally go ahead.
Finally, in June, work starts in Terrey Hills: the existing building is demolished and the excavations for the buildings are carried out. In December the construction of the buildings commences.
Despite a significant increase in the requirements for the registration of a school in NSW, the school gains registration from the NSW Board of Studies in December. This documents that the school fulfils the minimum requirements of the NSW curriculum.
With the German Ambassador Martin Lutz and the NSW Leader of the House John Aquilina the foundation stone is laid during a ceremony.
The school farewells Mr Steinmetz and welcomes the new principal Hannelore Trageser.
After the 2004 record the student numbers dramatically decline to 186, which is partly due to the continuously postponed move to Terrey Hills.
In October, it is obvious that a start in Terrey Hills in January 2008 is no longer possible. Nevertheless, the English Stream commences as planned.
With the start of the English Stream’s first class, the school expands its offering to attract students with limited or no prior knowledge of the German language.
After six years of planning and construction, the school finally moves to its new premises in Terrey Hills. The grand opening in September is celebrated with more than 2000 guests.
The GISS celebrates its 20th anniversary!
The move to Terrey Hills and the start of the English Stream has increased the school enrollments to more than 250 students for the first time.
At the end of the year the school purchased two acres of the neighbouring land for a much needed school extension.
Due to increasing student numbers and the parallel English stream, additional class rooms and land were allocated. With funding from the Australian Government a new library "Johannes Gutenberg" and four new classrooms (Elisabeth Selbert buildings) were built. At the same time the land could be doubled by purchasing our neighbour’s land.
First student exchange with Germany. The first group of English speaking students travelled for three weeks on a student exchange with our exchange school in Ober-Ramstadt.
First voluntary work with Waratah Park (Skippy’s former home)
Frau Trageser returned to Berlin, Germany and Herrn Erhard Seifert took on the role as Principal of the school.
In August, a group of parents set up the school’s first, traditional Christmas Market in the Australian winter.
The Cultural Centre starts planning activities with the aim of hosting regular events to establish itself as a cultural meeting place in order to make the school well known within the community.
The 10th IB group graduate, with the best results ever.
Through the implementation of a standardised curriculum that meets both the requirements of the state of Thuringen as well as the State of NSW, the basis for a conversion is in place.
In the next step, the entire school will progress to a unified school year from January to December.