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Banbury Crossroads School

201-2451 Dieppe Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T3E 7K1

Grades (Gender):
JK to Gr. 12 (Coed)
$9,000 to 13,000/year
Main Language:
Avg. Class Size:
10 to 12
Day: 90 (Gr. JK - 12)

School Address
201-2451 Dieppe Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T3E 7K1

About this school:


We offer self-directed learning, fostering student autonomy and liberty in a culture of mutual respect. Academics are individualized. We use a student-paced approach with tutorial instruction in small, multi-aged groups of 10:1. Collaboration within meaningful, trusting relationships enhances learning. Students connect with the community through field trips, volunteerism and internships. We communicate, negotiate, solve problems and develop soft skills. Member of Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning--CCSDL. — Visit school website



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Our Take: Banbury Crossroads School

our takeDiane Swiatek founded Banbury Crossroads in 1980, and she remains the head of the school today. She has said that “parenting and mentoring children is a matter of choosing philosophy and principles, and acting so as to live out those principles.” Indeed, since its inception, Banbury has been an expression of that ideal. The academics are demonstrably strong, though the attention to values, including responsibility and character development, is a particular draw for the families that enroll here. So too is an academic approach founded in the curiosity and the interests that students bring with them to the classroom. We learn best when we learn for ourselves, rather than for external reward, and the Banbury environment has been created with that in mind. 

Principal's Message


Diane Swiatek, Director

Director’s Message:


Ah!  This was a very satisfying year!  We turned 35!  It is a glorious feeling, to know that Banbury has been available for children and youth for all of this time.  As in previous years, our peaceful, collaborative and stimulating environment has enabled our students to devote themselves to learning, without fear and with joy.  We have done a lot of things in 35 years, and this year, we discovered even more!  The students made pictures out of pebbles, created a time line of Alberta history that went down the hallway, painted a flower portal to the Art Room, published an alphabet book with Plasticene pictures about Banbury that was presented to me after the Gala, created some new forms of Elementary projects, did amazing art with Cristina and Ann in multiple media and original styles, and gained skill in a variety of languages—Russian, Spanish, French and Japanese.  One of our secondary students, Haley Mather, participated in the SEEDS Connections Program, which involved online work, an on-site camp and then the creation of her project, a website, www.lets-listen.org, intended to help people to make connections around the world, in order to better understand each other.  She also won Third Place in the Optimist Club of Calgary’s Essay Contest.  Parts 2 and 3 of the secondary play, The Alliance, were presented at Christmas and at the Awards Ceremony.  The White Wave Dance Troupe, composed of students across the age spectrum, and directed by Genevieve Bradford, performed at Christmas and at the Anniversary Gala.  Dr. David Helfand, President of Quest University, spoke to us about the Universe.  We have been busy.

This year, our students dove deeply into their projects, and pursued answers to their own intrinsic questions through their studies.  They explored their environment kinesthetically outside of the school.  For instance, the secondary students went to Camp Chief Hector in the Kananaskis, and enjoyed that experience immensely!  Inside our school walls, our atmosphere was observed by many visitors and community members to be peaceful, inspiring and comfortable.  Although we had the disruption of losing four teachers, for a variety of reasons, the rest of us carried on together to make our usual genuine and caring social connections.  Some of these connections were with new, bright and fresh teachers, who cheered us up!  We needed to be resilient, because caring social connections are really important for students’ academic growth.  Our teachers are here to give long-term mentorship, and to help students feel capable and visible.  This visibility is a distinct advantage for intellectual pursuits, because learning is a complicated and interrelated process for young people, and they benefit from guidance.  They must become able to set goals, manage priorities, obtain resources, identify topics of special interest, explore their environment, focus, monitor their pace and evaluate results.  This process is made much easier, simply because caring adults at Banbury are by their side throughout that long and convoluted process. 

We had a great group of students this year!  They were pleasant, and had supportive attitudes towards each other.  They engaged in helpful, win-win problem solving and spontaneous peer instruction.  They collaborated on project design and production.  They were even better than the typical students we have had across the years.  At our 35th Anniversary Gala, I had prepared a slide production of about 4,500 photos.  These images flashing upon the screen made clear one of the most valuable aspects of Banbury—the element of joy.  Children have been happy, here!  People commented on that at the event.  This is no small feat!  In our intimate setting, children may be themselves, become self-aware and self-responsible, express themselves through creative means, and, in general, find their voices.  When children have a voice, they do not need to yell.  They speak with respect and confidence.  They care about each other.  Happiness within individuals makes it possible to have social cohesion, and to find pleasure in living.  This method of schooling has wonderful side effects, and I am so proud to be part of its flowering in the world.

I am deeply grateful to all of the people, over all of these years, who have contributed to the growth of Banbury’s vision.  It is a very congruent vision in every way.  Everything fits together seamlessly—our approach to communication, our way of dealing with children, the connections created between the real world and their studies, and the collaboration between teachers and parents for the benefit of our children.  The photographs show that, no matter who the teachers, or students, or parents were in any given year, the basic vision shines through.  It is almost as though Banbury now has a life of its own!  It is definitely bigger than any one of us.  We are onto something marvelous! 

I appreciate, with every fibre of my being, the teachers who have grown with me over these years, especially Karen Harrison, who has been with us for 24 years!  This is devotion and strength and intelligent problem solving at its peak.   Karen is so fundamentally my right-hand person, and I am eternally grateful for her companionship over our working lives.  Anne Bransby-Williams, who was first my friend, then our Pre-School teacher, and now our Office Administrator, has a center-of-the-heart place at Banbury, not just for me, but for all of us.  Cristina Atanasiu is another long-time teacher and Renaissance woman, who has helped us grow in three locations.  The historical understanding that is gained over many years is very important, because Banbury is, truly, built upon itself year after year.  Who we are now is a direct result of who we have ever been.  Doan Tran, Ann McKean, and Tara Fry are other devoted teachers who are knowledgeable about how Banbury works and efficient in bringing it to life.  We have all seen so much, and know the core of Banbury that persists over time.  We have learned different things each year.  We have helped each other unselfishly.  We have given mutual support, time and kindness to each other.  I have needed that support.  I have needed to know that I could trust that the teachers here would create this educational world that I envisioned.  I could never have gotten this far without all of these people sharing this vision and working hard together to make it happen.  Then, I want to acknowledge our newer teachers, because I appreciate so much their energy and enthusiasm and willingness to join in this venture.  We are a very special group, and I am so thankful.

The parents, too, have been crucial to the success of our programs, as they have been so supportive of their children, who are the crux of this whole endeavour.  Parents have always been important to me, right from the beginning in 1979, when I was still experimenting, and did not incorporate other teachers into the fledgling endeavour.  In those early days, I derived emotional and intellectual sustenance from parents, who provided feedback and planning ideas, resources and companionship.  Afterwards, when the school grew and teachers joined me, parents continued in their central role.  We needed them, and they needed us.  This year, parents were obvious contributors in a variety of ways.  Steve McIlvenna and his wife, Prudence Hoffman, provided administrative insight.  Parents and grandparents contributed donations to our Banbury Crossroads School Society.  Jacquie Barnes, who was the lead Event Planner for the 35th Anniversary, is a former parent herself, and she was assisted greatly by many parents who rallied to organize many aspects of the Gala itself, as well as the Silent and Live Auction.  I am humbly grateful for their creativity and energy and care.  Pamela Mclean, a former parent and current Director of the Society, spoke at the Gala, to let parents know that they need to value the School, and lobby the new NDP government to support Banbury as a Private School, since it performs a useful, visionary educational role model in our culture.  Bravo to all of these parents and family members!

Lastly, I want to mention our alumni, which is a group that is growing each year.  At the 35th Anniversary Gala, alumni spoke at the podium for the first time in a formal way about how Banbury affected their lives.  These alumni were Anne Mclean, Iain Richardson, Delaney Boyd, Dave Crosby, Thomas Kaune, Sarah Jorba, and my son, Liam Cummings.  I am so proud of each one of them!  I have such fond memories of each one of them; they are part of my life and my heart, too.  It is clear to see that the alumni are the true products of this school.  It is clear that they are people with initiative and passion and humility.  They care about issues that go far beyond their self-interest.  They are constructive communicators, effective presenters of ideas, and reasonable critical thinkers.  They have moral values and solid characters.  They are strong.  I knew it would happen, and I have been watching during all these years as it happened, and I am beyond delighted that these individuals, each in their own way, will influence the world they inhabit for its betterment. 

I am so proud of this School and grateful for everyone who has given their heart to this endeavour.  I have learned so much.  I guess that is not surprising…I have been in school all of my life!!  I was bored in school when I was a child, but I have never been bored at Banbury!


By Diane Swiatek

June 19th, 2015




Curriculum Progressive

Primary Curriculum: Progressive

What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury's unique Self-Directed philosophy offers an individualized learning environment for children ages 3 through 18. Banbury is founded on mutual respect; thus, it enables students to achieve the academic mastery appropriate to their own interests, abilities and motivation. Character development is promoted. The combination of a low-ratio, student-paced program existing within a multi-aged setting, is most conducive to not penalizing students socially for being academically behind or ahead of their peers. Students are mentored to take responsibility for their own education through inquiry-based and kinesthetic projects, and community-focused learning. They devise their own schedules, develop intrinsic motivation, and learn skills in time management, goal setting and self assessment. Secondary students participate in contributive internships at community businesses. Students assess career options, develop meaningful and trusting relationships with adults, and cultivate altruism, empathy and communication skills. Banbury's well-balanced approach creates an enriching and inspiring school experience that promotes the development of autonomy and confidence. These two elements are necessary for students' engagement in the academic, emotional and social aspects of post-secondary education and adult life.

  • Approach:

  • Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics Equal Balance

      These math programs feature an equal balance of “Traditional” and “Discovery” methods.
      Learn about the different mathematics approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury has both "Traditional Math" and "Discovery Math" teaching methods.

    • Textbooks and supplementary materials: Math text books used are part of the Alberta Curriculum.

    • Calculator policy: Calculators are used in our math programs, as a useful skill and resource.

    Early Reading Balanced Literacy

      Balanced reading programs are typically Whole Language programs with supplementary phonics training. This training might be incidental, or it might take the form of mini-lessons.
      Learn about the different early reading approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury has a balanced literacy program. We teach children to read when they are ready, which could be any time from age 3 through age 7. We offer individual reading lessons, and teach story writing through dictated stories, as well as their own journalling and writing to accompany relevant activities. Phonics is taught as a strategy to de-code words.

    • DIBELS Testing: This school does not use DIBELS testing to assess reading progress.

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: This information is not currently available.

    Writing Equal balance

      Programs that balance systematic and process approaches equally likely have an emphasis on giving young students ample opportunities to write, while providing supplementary class-wide instruction in grammar, parts of sentences, and various writing strategies.
      Learn about the different writing approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury has a balanced approach to writing. Writing occurs in relevant and meaningful situations. Students are assisted individually, and encouraged to write independently as well. There is a huge focus on writing, all through the grades, as there is always a teacher available to assist students in their writing. Writing is only as good as a person's thinking. We assist students in clarifying their thoughts, organizing their points logically and reasonably, making linking statements and suitable introductions and conclusions. All students need to be shown how to "cut and paste" in the literal sense. This means that all students need instruction at some point of their lives in creating quality written work. We have had students write essays for diploma exams in which they receive 100%. Of course, individual talent is a huge contributor to this. However, we tend to increase students' skill in writing.

    Science Equal Balance

      Science programs that balance expository and inquiry learning equally will likely have an equal blend of tests and experiments; direct, textbook-based instruction and student-centred projects.
      Learn about the different science approaches  

    • Teaching approach: Banbury has a balanced approach to the Sciences. We include field trips, experiments and hands-on project work as fundamental means of making science come alive for our students.

    • Topics covered in curriculum:

      Subject = offered
    • Treatment of evolution:

      Evolution as consensus theory
      Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
      Evolution is not taught

    Literature Equal Balance

      These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.
      Learn about the different literature approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury has a balanced approach to literature. We follow the Alberta Programs of Study, and give students much leeway in choice of novels, plays, poetry, and so on, for their chosen assignments. We utilize projects with an interdisciplinary focus.

    Social Studies Core Knowledge

      Usually focused on teaching history and geography at an early age, the core knowledge approach uses story, drama, reading, and discussion to teach about significant people, places, and events. Breadth of content and knowledge is emphasized. The curriculum is often organized according to the underlying logic of the content: history might be taught sequentially, for example (as students move through the grades).
      Learn about the different social studies approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury teaches core knowledge of history and geography.

    Humanities and Social Sciences Pragmatism

      Pragmatism in the humanities and social sciences emphasizes making learning relevant to students’ present-day experience. Assignments tend to centre around projects and tasks rather than argumentative essays; these projects will often have a “real-world” application or relevance. There might be more of a social justice component to a pragmatic program, though that isn’t always the case. Subjects like history and philosophy are still covered/offered, but they play a less prominent role in the overall program than in the case of perennialism. The social sciences (contemporary geography, sociology, psychology, etc), meanwhile, might play a more prominent role in pragmatic programs. The key goals are to make learning progressive and relevant, while teaching students real-life skills and critical thinking.
      Learn about the different humanities and social sciences approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury has a more pragmatic approach to social sciences in Grade 7 and higher.

    Foreign Languages Communicative

      The communicative method of language acquisition emphasizes the use of the target language in authentic contexts. The approach commonly features interactive group work, games, authentic texts, and opportunities to learn about the cultural background of the language. Drills and quizzes may still be used, but less frequently than with the audio-lingual method.
      Learn about the different foreign languages approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury uses the communicative method for teaching foreign languages.

    • Studying a foreign language is required until:   9
    • Languages Offered: • French • Spanish • ESL

    Fine Arts Equal Balance

      These programs have an equal emphasis on receptive and creative learning.
      Learn about the different fine arts approaches  

    • Program offers:

      Subject = offered
      Graphic Design
      Visual Arts
    • Visual studio philosophy:

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury has an expressive approach in our visual studio program.

    Computers and Technology Medium integration

      Effort is made to integrate the development of digital literacy through the curriculum. However, this is not a dominant focus.
      Learn about the different computers and technology approaches  

    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury includes the role of computers and technology in our curriculum.

    • Program covers:

      Subject = offered
      Computer science
      Web design

    Physical Education
    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Physcial Education at Banbury, has an extensive outdoor component, including horseback riding, skiing, archery, golf, hiking, and canoeing. Many of our indoor activities such as volleyball, basketball, badminton and wall-climbing are conducted off-site in recreation centres. Other indoor activities include swimming, bowling, and yoga. Many games are played on the fields and grounds near our school.

    Advanced Placement Courses
    • AP English Literature and Composition

    Sex and Health Education Alberta curriculum
    Topics covered in sex and health education: This information is not currently available.

    What Banbury Crossroads says: This information is not currently available.

    Mostly value-neutral

    By and large, we teach sex education free of any particular moral or ethical standpoint. We try not to impose any particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) on our students when teaching sex and related issues.

    Fairly value-based

    Sex education is sometimes taught from a particular moral or ethical standpoint. Sometimes particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) are invoked when teaching sex and related issues.


    This includes a range of positions. A traditional approach might, for example, go as far as emphasizing the nuclear family and complete abstinence from sex before marriage. Alternatively, this approach might simply involve placing less emphasis on sex outside of the context of marriage and more emphasis on abstinence. Or finally, it might just involve focusing less on sex outside of the context of marriage.


    This might mean more emphasis is placed on the importance of such things as social equality, diversity, and choice in sex education.

    What Banbury Crossroads says: Our Sex-ed program is offered according to the Alberta Curriculum for each grade required.

    Preschool/K Curriculum Play-based

    • Play-based
    • Montessori
    • Waldorf
    • Reggio Emilia
    • Academic

    Play-based programs are the most common type of preschool and Kindergarten, and are founded on the belief young children learn best through play. Largely open-ended and minimally structured, play-based programs aim to develop social skills and a love of attending school. “Pre-academic” skills are taught, but in a more indirect way than at, say, an Academic program: through children playing in different “stations” set up around the classroom, which children choose on their own volition. Stations often contain an indirect lesson or developmental goal. Play-based classrooms are highly social and active.

    If you want to learn more about preschool education, check out our comprehensive guide. You can also read our in-depth answers to important preschool questions: What is preschool? What are the main preschool programs? What are the main pros and cons of preschool? What do children learn in preschool? How much does preschool cost?  What makes for a great preschool?

    What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury Crossroads has a Self-Directed Kindergarten and Pre-school program. The structure is based on the Modern British Infant System, from which came our modern ideas around "centers" and "integrated project work", as well as "constructivism" in the learning process. Our school follows this structure and philosophy from junior kindergarten through Grade Twelve. It involves multi-aged grouping, individualized instruction, mastery learning, kinesthetic projects, teacher mentorship, free play and contact with the community.

    Curriculum Pace Student-paced

    • Standard-enriched
    • Accelerated
    • Student-paced

    The main curriculum pace is non-standardized and is HIGHLY responsive to the pacing of individual students, (via differentiated instruction, differentiated assessment, etc). In theory, some students outpace the default/normalized curriculum, while others spend periods "behind schedule" if they need the extra time.

    Flexible pacing:

    Flexible pacing style = offered
    Subject-streaming (tracking)
    Multi-age classrooms as standard
    Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
    Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
    Regular guided independent study opportunities
    Differentiated assessment

    What Banbury Crossroads says about flexible pacing: This information is not currently available.

    Academic Culture Supportive

    • Rigorous
    • Supportive

    A school with a “supportive” academic culture focuses more on process than short-term outcomes: academic performance is a welcomed side-benefit, but not the driving focus. This does not mean the school lacks standards, or has low expectations for its students: a school can have a supportive academic culture and still light the fire of ambition in its students. It does mean, however, the school provides a less intensive culture than schools with a “rigorous” academic classification, and is focused more simply on instilling a love of learning and life-long curiosity.

    What Banbury Crossroads says: Self-Directed Learning is the norm at Banbury Crossroads School. We have a very supportive environment for academics at the school. The students have an attitude towards accomplishment more like that at university. There is no teasing for being "a brain" here.

    Developmental Priorities Balanced, Emotional

    Primary Developmental Priority: Balanced
    Equal attention is paid to a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical.

    Secondary Developmental Priority: Emotional
    Emotionally intelligent and confident individuals, capable of leading both themselves and others.

    What Banbury Crossroads says: We know that learning happens in all realms at once: physical, emotional, intellectual, creative, social. Banbury\'s well balanced approach creates an enriching and inspiring school experience that promotes the development of autonomy and confidence. These two elements are necessary for students\' engagement in the academic, emotional and social aspects of post secondary education and adult life.

    Special Needs Support Withdrawal Assistance

    Withdrawal Assistance

    Students remain in a regular classroom for most of the day, but are pulled out for extra support from a qualified special education teacher.

    • Academic Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
      Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties
    • Mild but clinically diagnosed ADHD
      Support Type = offered
      Extra support
    • What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury can offer accommodations for children with mild learning disabilities.

    • Support for moderate-to-severe special needs:
      Special needs
      ADHD (moderate to severe)
      Learning disabilities
      Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
      Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
      Language Processing Disorder
      Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
      Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
      Asperger's Syndrome
      Down syndrome
      Intellectual disability
      Williams syndrome
      Behavioral and Emotional
      Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
      Clinical Depression
      Clinical anxiety
      Suicidal thoughts
      Drug and alcohol abuse
      Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
      Multiple sclerosis
      Cerebral palsy
      Muscular dystrophy
      Spina Bifida
      Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
      Cystic Fibrosis
      Multiple physical
    • Forms of support delivery:
      Support Type = offered
      A regular class with indirect support
      A regular class with resource assistance
      A regular class with withdrawal assistance
      A special education class with partial integration
      A full-time special education class
    • Additional Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Social skills programs
      Occupational therapy
      Speech-language therapy
    • Summary: We are not a special needs school. We can accommodate students with mild needs, as long as they can function within our self-directed learning classes.

    Gifted Learner Support Dedicated class; in-class adaptations

    Dedicated gifted programs:

    Program = offered
    Full-time gifted program (parallel to rest of school)
    Part-time gifted program (pull-out; parallel to rest of class)

    Curriculum delivery: Acceleration and enrichment (There is an equal emphasis on acceleration and enrichment.)

    In-class adaptations:
    Practice = offered
    Custom subject enrichment (special arrangement)
    Custom curriculum compacting (special arrangement)
    Guided independent study (custom gifted arrangement)
    Cyber-learning opportunities (custom gifted arrangement)
    Formalized peer coaching opportunities (specifically for gifted learners to coach others)
    Custom subject acceleration (special arrangement)
    Career exploration (custom gifted arrangement)
    Project-based learning (custom gifted arrangement)
    Mentorships (custom gifted arrangement)

    What Banbury Crossroads says: Banbury is an excellent place for gifted students. It provides multitudinous opportunities for student ideas and input towards their assignments and projects. There is a huge component of long-term teacher mentorship and discussion. We use a hands-on approach and take students out into the world to explore. We offer internships, volunteerism and visits from interesting people. We see the world as our focus. We take older students on trips out of the country.

    Gifted education: If you want to learn more about gifted education, check out our comprehensive guide. It’s the first of its kind: it covers different kinds of gifted schools and programs, and a whole host of issues parents face in finding the right option for their gifted child.

    Homework Policy

    In grade 12, Banbury Crossroads School students perform an average of No homework of homework per night.

    Nightly Homework
    Banbury Crossroads 0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins0 mins
    Site Average6 mins16 mins17 mins24 mins29 mins34 mins40 mins53 mins57 mins69 mins80 mins95 mins108 mins

    Report Card Policy

    How assessments are delivered across the grades:

    Prose (narrative)-based feedbackJK to 12
    Parent-teacher meetingsJK to 12

    Class Sizes Not available

    This information is not currently available.


    What Banbury Crossroads says:
    • This section is different for Banbury, primarily because the items ticked off above indicate activities that are usually conducted during school hours, not as extra-curricular hours. They bear mentioning, just to show that the physical education classes and other special project activities at Banbury cover a wide range of interests. We offer internships that occur off-campus. We also offer personal interest projects that may cover any topic whatever. In addition, we have had after-hour clubs for outdoor education, chess, scrabble, arts and handcrafts, whenever there is an interest in those subjects.

    • Sports OfferedCompetitiveRecreational
      Ice Hockey
      Track & Field
      Cross-country skiing
      Downhill skiing
      Field Hockey
      Ice Skating
      Martial Arts
      Mountain biking
      Racquet Ball
    • Clubs Offered
      Art Club
      Chess Club
      Community Service
      Debate Club
      Outdoor Club
      Outdoor Education
      School newspaper
      Student Council

    Tuition & Financial Aid


    Day Day (International)
    Day (International)$13,000


    Discount TypeEnrollment TypeAmount
    Early paymentall students4%
    2nd child (sibling)all students4%
    3rd child (sibling)all students4%

    Need-based financial aid

    Grade range that need-based aid is offered: K to 12
    Percentage of grade-eligible students receiving financial aid10%
    Average aid package size$3,500
    Percentage of total enrollment on financial aid10%
    Total aid available$3,500

    Application Deadline:
    Rolling deadline Repeats annually

    More information:

    Application Details:

    This school works with other. for processing financial applications
    An interview with the Director of Banbury Crossroads School

    Merit based Scholarships

    This information is not currently available.


    Total enrollment 90
    Average enrollment per grade6
    Average class size10 to 12
    Gender (grades)JK to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    Boarding offeredNo

    Student distribution:

    Day Enrollment32265144365



    Admissions Assessments:

    Assessment = requiredGrades
    InterviewPS - 12
    SSAT (out of province)
    Entrance Exam(s)
    Entrance Essay
    Application Fee

    Application Deadlines:

    Day students:

    What Banbury Crossroads says:

    An interview and tour of the school is encouraged.  School records and assessments are to be submitted. No admissions test is administered. We take students who are gifted through average to struggling.  A match of philosophy is a must.  This is because we are a philosophically-driven, self-directed learning school.  Students work to mastery, so they keep progressing until they have completed units or projects or grades.  Classes operate with students in multi-aged groups, with 10 students per teacher, so students receive much personal attention.  This allows for students to work independently, as they receive instruction individually or in small groups or seminars.  We do not normally take special needs students, as we only have one teacher who is trained to work with such children, and she works only with the younger ones.  We also do not have ready access to special needs resources, nor do we have psychologists or other specialists on our staff.  Therefore, we generally only take students whose abilities are average through to gifted.


    Acceptance Rate:


    Type of student Banbury Crossroads School is looking for: We are looking for students who are able to work independently, as well as willing to work individually with a teacher. Students need to be willing to try new learning experiences, open to instruction, willing to attend, socially adept and responsive, mutually respectful, and pleasant and able to be responsible for their own behaviour. We are able to celebrate differences in abilities, interests and passions, motivation, and personalities. We simply want students who are motivated to learn, empathetic and caring, and able to not distract others. If they are self-directed to begin with, that is great. If not, they may learn how to be, here.

    Student Entry Points

    Student TypePSK123456789101112
    Day Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)
    3 - 5 (100%)3 - 5 (100%)2 - 3 (100%)2 - 3 (100%)2 - 3 (100%)3 - 4 (100%)4 - 5 (100%)5 - 8 (100%)5 - 2 (100%)5 - 8 (100%)5 - 9 (100%)5 - 8 (100%)5 - 7 (100%)

    University Placement

    Services = offered
    Career planning
    Mentorship Program
    University counseling
    Key Numbers
    Average graduating class size4
    *Canadian "Big 6" placements0
    **Ivy+ placementsN/A

    *Number of students in 2015 who attended one of McGill, U of T, UBC, Queen's University, University of Alberta, or Dalhousie University.

    **Number of students since 2005 that attended one of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, University of Chicago, Oxford or Cambridge (UK)

    Schools our students are admitted to (last 4 years): University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Mount Royal University, SAIT
    Schools our students attend (last 4 years): University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Mount Royal University, SAIT

    What Banbury Crossroads School says:

  • Students who attend university after attending Banbury are extremely successful in that post-secondary life. We have had graduates attend universities in Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Australia. By the time they graduate, they have learned how to take responsibility for their own learning. They have no trouble with the independent learning and organization that is required at university. They join student councils and other facets of university life, such as safewalk, leadership courses, frosh week activity coordination, and so on. They find their own tutors, create study groups, organize the timing of their work, and most importantly, visit with their professors and discuss the topics in their courses. They have positive expectations for their relationships with adults, and create networks of professional connections. They have entered faculties such as Sociology, Fine Arts, Medicine, Commerce, Psychology, Accounting, Business, Law, Urban Planning, Environmental Design, English, Naval Architecture, Airplane Mechanics, and Mechanical Engineering. Many receive second degrees, including Masters and Doctorates.

  • Notable Alumni

    Alumnus Graduation Year Accomplishment
    Delaney Boyd 2016 Delaney Boyd has just graduated with a Ph.D. One site is http://wikipedia.org/wiki/plains_bison, where her thesis is referenced.

    Alumni Highlights

    • As we are a small school, and have few graduates each year, our alumni list is smaller than those of large schools. Nevertheless, our graduates are distinguished in many ways that are unusual. One is that their writing skills and their social/communication skills tend to be markedly superior. In addition, they often tend to be entrepreneurs. As one graduate said, "I realize that every job I have ever had, I created." We have started a section on our website called "Alumni Reflections" that highlights the experiences of our graduates, post-school, and how their lives were influenced by their attendance at Banbury. One of these graduates, Delaney Boyd, who graduated in 2003 with her Master's in EVDS in Ecology, was awarded the Gold Medal for the Faculty. She has now completed her Doctorate in EVDS, and is working as the Land Planning and Policies Officer for the Department of National Defence at Suffield Base in Alberta. Another site in which her thesis is referenced resulted from her invitation by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy as one of five delegates from around the world to present at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, in November of 2014. An article on the basis of this work was published by GlobalPost at the following link: www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/groundtruth/bombs-biodiversity-military-lands-conservation-WPCSydney. Otherwise, many alumni keep in touch, and we have just begun to develop a formal alumni organization. Alumni are invited to anniversary events and other events hosted by the school.

    Stories & Testimonials


    School is a Safe Place

    Thank you Diane for your wonderful school.  When my daughter Lisa first started Banbury Crossroads, she was a timid girl, unsure of herself and afraid of her peers.  It didn't take long for that timid little girl to realize that no longer did she have to be afraid, no longer did she have to hide in the bathroom at lunch time because of bullies.  No longer did she have to sit in a classroom with 30 other children, wishing that the school bell would ring and she could escape.  She found that at Banbury Crossroads it was okay to be herself. it was okay to work and learn in her own way.  She began to grow independent, she began to laugh and school became a fun and wonderful place to be.  Lisa has excelled in all her subjects, it's been amazing to watch her go from strength to strength.

    I overheard my daughter talking with a neighbor's child.   The child was complaining that the weekend was nearly over and that she would soon be back at school. Lisa smiling relied, "I love school, it's great!".  The child looked at Lisa and answered, "You're weird".  Lisa does love school, she loves the fact that she feels safe, she loves the fact that her teachers really listen to HER.  She loves the fact that everyone in Banbury Crossroads tolerate each other, each other's individualism, and each person is treated as an individual at Banbury Crossroads. 

    I feel very passionate about Banbury Crossroads School.  I would never have believed that such a school exists.  This is the way learning should be.  I think that if more schools were like Banbury Crossroads we wouldn't have all the problems in schools and in life after school.  School is where our children are building their foundations for life.  If their foundation is strong, then so will they be.  

    Thank you again Diane to you and all your wonderful teachers and staff that make Banbury Crossroads the wonderful place of learning that it is.  I will be forever grateful to you for allowing Lisa's heart to once again sing and for giving me peace of mind knowing that my child is safe and happy within the walls of Banbury Crossroads School.




    The Banbury Crossroads Vision

    It is my pleasure to offer my sincerest recommendation of Ms. Diane Swiatek for a Woman of Vision Award.

    When asked to provide this reference in the context of being one of Diane's graduates from Banbury Crossroads School, my first thought was, yes, what an absolutely fitting award for Diane, as she truly is a woman of not only vision, but patience, perseverance, and unwavering dedication to the stewardship of that vision.

    I have known Diane since I was six years old when I joined Banbury Crossroads School in Grade 1, my first of eight years under her teaching and mentorship. During that period, through the nurturing, supportive, and enriching environment Diane fostered, we established a near familial bond that exists to this day, over two decades later. She is a dear friend, and an extraordinary educator about whom I will now attempt to relate the qualities that make her a woman of vision.

    First and foremost, Diane created a school long before the concept of independent schooling became mainstream. This school was catalyzed initially by her disenchantment with the established format of the public system, but was crafted in accordance with her personal vision and principles that a learning environment can be so much more enriching and diverse. The testament to this vision is that the school has now operated for over 30 years, and during that time, Diane has demonstrated the courage, optimism, and strength of character to maintain her vision and ideals, despite institutional resistance, inflexible rules and policies, and economic fluctuations. Against the odds, Diane offered an alternative one that my parents, among others, were searching for. A place where, and more accurately, a person to whom, they could entrust the caretaking of their children's education.

    To better understand, however, why Diane is a visionary, the nature and details of the experience of being at Banbury Crossroads must be described. I will now share some reflections on my eight years at the school.

    As a student at Banbury Crossroads, I was given the freedom to direct my own learning. There were no set schedules, no mass-distributed assignments, no cold classrooms filled with rows of desks. Diane provided a diversity of unique materials, workbooks, textbooks, toys, games and welcoming physical environments, from which my classmates and I could choose activities and learning pursuits.  There was also very little competition. I had no report cards most of the time I didn't even have grades to compare with other classmates who may or may not have been in the same grade as me for any given subject. The focus was always on the learning, not how I measured up in comparison to my peers (although, of note, when my classmates and I did write standardized exams mandated by the province, we always did very well a further testament to the quality of the education.)

    My classmates and I, of course, learned the expected subjects math, language arts, science, etc. (often at more advanced levels than typical for our ages), but also history, phonics, grammar, public speaking, logical reasoning, critical thinking, organization in writing, and typing and, for example, not just how to type Diane would include us in the total experience of any given subject so, she would take us to buy the typewriter ribbons, and pick out the stationery that we wanted to use for our stories or reports.

    She taught and inspired us to sing, play musical instruments, write and direct plays, cook international cuisine, bake, knit, weave, dye cloth using batik methods, write poetry, garden, make yogurt, create linocut prints, draw, plan events, care for pets, read maps, play games of strategy, skate, conduct science experiments, take photographs, quilt, snowshoe, grow plants, sew clothing from a pattern, and canoe.

    As well, she ensured a balanced education by arranging for the input of other teachers in art, French, sports, computers, gymnastics, social dance and field trips to every conceivable place one might learn. (What better way to learn about blowing glass, than in a glass factory? Baking bread we'd go to a bakery. Photo developing? Off to the self-serve photo lab we went.) Learning was an immersion in life.

    Diane also infused the school environment with positive values including kindness, trust, and respectful communication. Violence and bullying were virtually non-existent. She instilled confidence in her students by empowering them to take ownership of their actions and their education. She encouraged each of us to engage with our world, including simple, yet character-building activities, such as speaking for ourselves with adults.  As well, we all had a caretaking function within the school community. We performed chores such as vacuuming and tidying common spaces, instilling respect for our shared space and for Diane, especially when the school resided in her home in the earlier years.

    It was a truly balanced, rich, and inspirational education, which encouraged me to push the boundaries, pursue my dreams, and speak out with respect, logic and emotional intelligence on issues of concern (such as when Diane helped me to write a letter to several major world leaders regarding nuclear disarmament  and I received replies!) Diane also planted the seed of my current career. From a young age I have had a penchant for our natural world and the importance of conserving our environment. When I was ten years old, Diane introduced me to an organization called The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and she gave me a copy of the World Conservation Strategy to read. I remember telling her after that point that when I grew up I would be an environmental designer. I may not have known fully what that meant at the time, but I knew I was passionate about nature, and our collective need to conserve and live sustainably within our environment.

    As it so happens, I now have a Bachelor's Degree in Ecology, and a Master's Degree in Environmental Design, and for my thesis I produced a Conservation Status Survey for Bison in North America for the IUCN. For the last six years, I have worked as a biologist for the Department of National Defence (DND), working to balance land use with species at risk protection and environmental sustainability. I am now embarking as a Project Manager mandated with designing a land use framework and land use management tools, which may ultimately be applied to military lands across Canada to promote long term sustainability.

    A woman of vision encouraged me on this path.

    This is necessarily only a partial list of details and descriptions to emphasize the sheer diversity of the self-directed and experiential learning opportunities Diane orchestrated and provided to her students. She manifested a vision through the certainty of her resolve that there had to be a better way to educate our children and inspire them to be well developed, contributing, respectful, confident, and nurturing members of society.  And this diversity and positive influence I'm sure I have only grown in the years since I left Banbury Crossroads.

    I thank you for this opportunity to recommend Diane for this award, and to share and reacquaint myself with my truly remarkable experience at Banbury Crossroads.

    Not only does her vision thrive through the continued existence of the school, but also the legacy of that vision lives on in her students.

    Best regards,

    Delaney Boyd


    Banbury is Different

    One of the joys of Banbury Crossroads is the look on Anne and Rachel's faces, when some uninformed adult commiserates with them over the end of vacation and the resumption of school, or expresses the fact that no child likes lessons a look of bemused acceptance of adult ignorance.

              Far from disliking lessons, Anne and Rachel find them everywhere:  they turn a trip to the Stampede, or a detour around a construction site or a family vacation, into adventures in intense, focused learning.  Time and again I've seen them watch workers until shift change while their long-suffering parents restlessly indulge their curiosity asking pertinent questions or just sitting and taking note of every detail.  In this way they watched the tilers at North Hill Mall until the self-conscious young journeyman began explaining his movements as he worked.

              After the first hour the paleontologist at the Tyrrell started letting them give his commentary.  And the leather worker at the Western Living show had to tell them to leave so that he could take his break.

              You see, they have never known learning to be a chore.  Their earliest school-lessons were in how to get help for their own learning agendas, rather than in how to follow someone else's agenda.  From the days when you took Anne through the Red Reader because she wanted it, to teaching Rachel to make an appointment at 3½ years old! for the private coaching she wanted, you've been empowering our girls to learn!


    Reflections on Diane Swiatek

    Diane Swiatek . . . woman of vision, woman of passion, woman of determination and woman of strength.   All of these, and yet none of these fully depict this individual who has impacted the lives of so many people over the course of so many years. 

    Passionate Visionary . . .

    30 years ago, Diane had a vision to start a school; not just any school but one that celebrated the individuality and creativity of the child, a safe place, where learning was a journey on the path to self-discovery. In short, this was to be a learning community that was not replicated anywhere in the world, much less Calgary.  She incurred many hurdles, not the least of which was the criticism and scepticism of others in her field, but Diane not only conquered each one, she has never even entertained the idea of failure.  Her passion for education and specifically for the education of young people is both inspiring and contagious.  To spend but a few hours with her, one cannot help but share in the enthusiasm and excitement of her prodigy, Banbury Crossroads School

    Extraordinary Teacher . . .

    While time has taken Diane out of the classroom and into her role as Director, one has only to observe her demeanour and manner when around her students to know that she is a truly gifted teacher. Having an open door policy does not quite do justice to the actual practice at Banbury, as it is extremely rare to even find Diane in her office unless she is already there chatting with a student. More likely, one will find her in the classrooms, in the office or in the hallways interacting with students, parents and teachers.  She is extremely visible and available to everyone.

    Truly, being sent to the principal's office at Banbury has a completely different connotation.  Firstly, this is an unknown phenomena at Banbury since any challenges are dealt with either by the individual teachers or on a community basis, depending on the situation. Secondly, students regularly seek out Diane on a voluntary basis, as she is someone they truly love and respect, and it's no small thing to say that these feelings are reciprocated. Diane never misses an opportunity to invest in her kids and her spirit is reflected in the peacefulness and joy one sees in the face of every student in the school. 

    Without a doubt, Banbury is a pretty incredible place to be.

    Dedicated Entrepreneur . . .    

    Profit, margin and bottom line may never enter her mind , but Diane is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word.

    Never one to take no for an answer, she has weathered many storms and encountered many trials in her 30 year journey. Like the captain of a ship, she has often sacrificed in order to preserve the integrity and viability of the school.  In her world however, these are all merely learning experiences, lessons to add to the repertoire and she welcomes them with grace and humility. Diane is always the first to roll up her sleeves and do whatever is in need of doing. From teaching to sweeping floors, to chauffeuring students, to counselling to answering phones to delivering speeches, Diane does not fill a role as much as she fulfills a purpose. 

    Banbury Crossroads School is Diane Swiatek's vision, her creation, her pride and her joy. She has moulded it, shaped it, fought for it, given her life to it, and there is precious little that she wouldn't do to protect it.

    Mentor/Counsellor/Role Model . . .

    In her many years of teaching, one of Diane's greatest joys and largest successes has come from being able to make a difference in the lives of young people. Besides the obvious humility and devotion that the students see enacted every day in her life, Diane has sat with many a student who is in need. Through the years, she has encouraged students when life is difficult and seemingly unbearable at home, been a mediator to students who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships, counselled those who have no idea what to do with their lives after high school, listened to parents who need advice on parenting, mentored new teachers who are usually not experienced with Banbury philosophies, and just embraced those who merely need a shoulder to cry on.   

    30 years later, the vision continues, the passion is greater than ever, and lives continue to be changed.  All of this because one woman, Diane Swiatek, had a dream.

    It is my great pleasure to nominate Diane Swiatek for the Woman of Vision award, and although her incredible humility would in all likelihood cause her to disagree, she is quite clearly deserving of this recognition. 


    Early Days

    Banbury Crossroads 25th Anniversary

              Twenty-five years ago, when we transplanted our family from Ontario to a newer community here in Calgary, we were confronted with a crowded, unsympathetic education system that offered our children a long bus ride to a distant school in a mundane curriculum with no challenges.  Ron and I started searching for alternatives to this dilemma, and became acquainted with Diane's Banbury Crossroads Private School.  We instantly liked her, and agreed with the methods she employed to instill values, self-esteem and a genuine love of information gathering into each of her charges.  In the open-concept schoolroom, she made learning fun, by introducing the children to first-hand experiential situations.  Apart from learning the compulsory ABC's, they went camping in the wilderness, traipsed over the hoodoos in dinosaur country, spent a day at a farm, made menus from scratch, learned ballroom dancing, wrote, directed and acted in plays, produced woodworking marvels, and had a hand in animal husbandry right in the classroom, caring for rabbits and guinea pigs.  The kids were encouraged to investigate, plan, execute and evaluate the ideas they wanted to explore.  Nothing in their imaginations was too weird or out of reach.  The varied experiences offered at BC made our two girls eager to go to school, and confident in their learning capabilities.

              Diane's teaching methods encouraged children to think and grow outside the ordinary parameters of grades and other measured standards.  Students were allowed to progress at their own speed of comprehension, employ critical-thinking skills, and follow their internal drives and desires, and were not kept back because of age restrictions.  The low teacher-to-student ratios meant that instructors were always accessible and available for questions and individual attention.  As an extra bonus, the younger kids were helped and tutored along by the older classmates.

              The vast majority of Diane's graduates have emerged as confident, well-adjusted adults who place a high value on the importance of education, and early introduction to real-life experiences and adventures.  Our own girls, Delaney and Rhiannon, are examples of successful individuals who possess high personal standards, confidence, integrity, manners, and are goal-oriented, all attributes of a combination of good parenting and exceptional education.

              On behalf of our children, we are grateful to Diane and her staff for their generosity of spirit, and for exposing the Banbury students to a safe learning environment of love, sharing and caring.

    Ron and Joy Boyd                    

    May 2005


    Upon 25th Anniversary

    May, 2006


                I think that's the feeling that came to me when I was asked to write this letter.  I wanted it to be, first and foremost, significant to communicate something great.  To fill this page with words that would leave you with a wow; because, I was there in 1979 when Diane started Banbury Crossroads.  It was my first school and perhaps the most important thing in my childhood, as something beyond the home.  I wish I could write down how important a good school is but I think that fundamentally it is a thing to be experienced.  I don't think I can actually tell you what going to BCrS was like, but it was significant for me, for the people that I was with, for my friends and family.

                Choosing Banbury Crossroads is a good choice, because, I believe, that for Diane and the School, children exceed important and pass into treasured.  I always felt valued as a student at BCS.  It is rare to find an environment that treats children as adults in training, and not as lesser versions of adults.  To treat a child as something that is important and something to be respected, unto itself, brings that something to be someone.  Perhaps, even someone great.  I loved going to that school mostly because of the environment which could be described as: loving, nurturing, open, outward-looking, and full of real life learning.

                This letter is a pale and empty version of what I would like it to be, because I cannot write down eight years of collected experience on a single page, or even a stack of pages, and do it justice.  I cannot let you know what it feels like to go to this school or to be in a long term relationship with it.  I can say that it was significant for me, enough to drag me back across 3033 Km of dirt for the 25th Anniversary, and I still treasure it for what it was, great.

    Respectfully and with Great affection

    Aaron A. Patella                              


    Woman of Vision Award

    It can be hard to believe that so much can come from so little, not that Diane is short.  I started at Banbury Crossroads School in 1979.  I have a vague, and I do mean vague, memory of a small apartment with stairs and a blonde girl, who was my only classmate that year; how far the school has come in 31 years.  For eight of those years I had what I consider the immense privilege to have been a student of Diane Cummings (now Swiatek).  I was under her tutelage and her influence for the better part of my formative youth.

    To call Diane a visionary would be to understate her stature as a builder.  I know that the 60s and the 70s were a period of revolution and change, but the courage that it takes to act on something as important as the education of children, and to fly in the face of convention is an act that unto itself requires a view of the future that is bigger than the mountain that has to be moved.

    I am sure that we all remember one of our early teachers with fond memories.  I do not, however, know a single spouse that says, I wonder what Ms X would say about that?  My wife says that.

    I will now talk about myself for a few moments, so bear with me.

    After Banbury Crossroads, I attended one of this country's oldest and most prestigious private high schools.  I took that school on by the horns.  I was head librarian, deputy head of the BCS #2 Cadet Corps.  I helped form a student council, coached students in the Intellectual Olympics, joined the adventure training team, ran cross country, skied, and sometimes I learned how to count.  When I went to university, I started to get a job, but I kept going with my studies, because I loved to learn new things.  I then went into business for myself and ran a B&B from the age of 26, started renovating apartment buildings, built storage facilities, started investing in real estate and raising a family of 4: and most of this in another language.

    So, back to Diane, while I don't intend to go on much about myself and I would like to take some of the credit for my life on myself, I owe much to the school that Diane created from nothing.

    I think if you take a moment you will be able to infer some of Diane's vision.  Diane foresaw a space where kids would be safe, not just from the rain and the wind, but from the expectations and the pressure of family and others.  Diane created a school where learning was fun and desirable, where math was learned in the world and the world was at our doorstep.  I loved my school because we went to the zoo, and by train to Banff and by bus to Crooked Creek.  We learned because we could and the resources were there.  We learned because Diane created a crossroads of our curiosity and the world's knowledge.

    When children are allowed to explore a topic until they have gone to the depths of their interest, when they are respected in their choices and interests, they inherently feel that they are important and therefore have the confidence to go out and try something that they have never done before, because it is important to them.

    Diane is unassuming and gentle; kind and happy, but, make no mistake, she is as strong as steel, and I admire her strength and her endurance.

    I returned to Calgary for Banbury Crossroads 25th Anniversary in 2005, and asked her if she had ever thought of giving up, and she said, "Never!"  This explains her endurance, for, when we are called by a future that is present for us, opportunities never fail to present themselves.

    Diane's vision has kept her going through 31 years of joyous hardship.  There is no question that her vision is a laudable one and one that we should support if we feel childhood and children are something important.  I sought out a school 5000 kilometres away from Banbury Crossroads that would reflect Diane's creation, but sometimes we think we should move back to Calgary to be closer to Diane's vision.

    My wife only met Diane for a few days in 2005 and she still talks about things that she learned from Diane that week.  I can only hope that my children will have a chance to live in a world that looks something like what Diane saw.

    31 years ago, Diane created the kind of school that we need today.  In a world where business and the economy are in the forefront of our ideas, Diane saw a learning environment that takes things and makes the kinds of people who seek autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

    • Aaron Patella




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