How we see Banbury Crossroads School
How Banbury Crossroads School sees itself
"Banbury Crossroads School has a truly unique learning environment. We teach students to mastery in class sizes averaging 8:1, in tutorial-style, multi-aged classrooms. Our collaborative, self-directed learning approach meets students' needs where they are, both academically as well as developmentally. Through extensive one-on-one guidance and attention, our students develop their own autonomy, resilience, communication, and time-management skills. Our graduates have confidence forged from self-competence."
"Many private schools offer what might be called "traditional plus" models of lecture-based, teacher-paced education, with class sizes averaging 15:1 or more. Banbury Crossroads School has a truly unique approach, where our classrooms are tutorial-based, multi-aged, student-paced, and feature class sizes averaging 8:1. Students go on regular field trips, and we offer support for work experience placement, internships, and community volunteering. Our graduates excel in post-secondary and life!"
"As a school with one of the lowest student to teacher ratios in the country, averaging 8:1, our students get unparalleled access to teachers for guidance, support, and mentoring. Students regularly schedule their own meetings with the School's Director to talk through challenges they're facing. With our self-directed curriculum delivery, students learn to thrive by making their own choices, leading to graduates with superlative self-management skills, and with confidence forged from competence."
"We do not give out letter/number grades until grade 10. Instead, we encourage and help students set goals, self-assess and learn until mastery - only moving on to the next grade until both the student and their teacher feel as though the student fully understands the subject/topic they are learning."
"We often stress that our class sizes are small, averaging 8:1. This is true and is a big factor for a lot of families when choosing our school. One fact that may be overlooked is our multi-age groupings. This allows for peer instruction, leadership, and collaboration. This is also more reflective of real-world situations and helps prepare students for university or college, and, later, their adult lives."
"Our school, founded in 1979 by Diane Swiatek, is the first student-focused, Self-Directed Learning Private School in Calgary
We started with 2 students, now serves almost 100, with plans to grow to 150
Our school focuses on individualized attention for each students unique learning styles, talents, etc.
We are located at Currie Barracks, a former Canadian Forces Base decommissioned in 1997
We are multicultural, with English Immersion for international students, allowing for diverse learning"
Highschool Art Class
Yearly School Performance
Teachers at Halloween
Staircase with shoe-rack leading to 2nd floor
Our Little Library
How people from the school’s community see Banbury Crossroads School
Top-down influence on the school’s direction and tone
Diane Swiatek, Director
B.A., B.Ed., E.C.S. Dip.
Congratulations to us all! Banbury Crossroads School passed its 40th Anniversary mark on November 1st, 2019. The historical inertia represented in its continued existence warms my heart, because it means that the Banbury Crossroads way of learning is still available for children in the Calgary region. It has been my passionate dream for the entirety of my adulthood for children to have the opportunity to be respected as individual people, and to be happy, visible, and nurtured while they learn in a holistic fashion. Over the years, the thinking and writing that was done from the very beginning is still valid and relevant. Our philosophy and practices of self-directed learning from those early years have become richer and validated through practice, flourishing into our present ways of being. The inspired devotion and multitudinous efforts of teachers, students, and parents have all contributed to create the actual way we are now. We are a very unique school, with our own particular identity. By this time, it is common for me to tell children and young adults, “At Banbury, we…” while explaining our ways of relating to others, engaging in learning activities and interest-based projects, developing emotional intelligence and self-regulation, connecting with the real world outside our walls, and creating the school culture inside them.
Over the years, Banbury Crossroads has honed its mission to foster learning through self-empowerment, intrinsic motivation, management of time and resources, and active goal setting. Mutual respect is the foundational principle. So, all of us expect to have both rights and responsibilities. Some of the hallmarks of our school are the development of moral and logical reasoning, and competence in the soft skills that are crucial for smooth social functioning, We have developed expertise in developing communication and negotiation skills, and providing guided conflict resolution among willing participants.
Academics matter, because students have an innate impetus for intellectual growth. They need to learn about, and master, their environment. To be respectful to our students, we allow them to work on material that suits their true level of accomplishment, rather than pushing them ahead or holding them back within same-age cohorts. This requires personalized and individualized instruction. So, students set their own schedules and deadlines, and pace their academics, individually working to levels of mastery in accordance with their abilities and motivation. The Alberta Programs of Study are the baseline; students often go beyond that.
As a result, Banbury Crossroads offers very unique schooling. The first difference is shown in how we treat children. Since we respect them as persons, we value their development in autonomy and self-sufficiency, while at the same time emphasizing their interdependence with other people. They are important individually, and so is everyone else. So, we put energy into helping them develop self-leadership, confidence, empathy, compassion, and social responsiveness. We emphasize the need to contribute to their communities.
In order to enable such individualized mentoring, the student-teacher ratio averages 8 to 1. This allows students to receive the visibility, attention, and nurturance necessary for optimal learning. Our choice of this small ratio allows the school atmosphere to be peaceful, comfortable, trusting, and optimistic. Joy happens here. Within these small classes, in order to allow students to work at their true levels of competence, we have chosen multi-aged groupings. This is not unique in the world at large—indeed, this describes the world at large—however, it is certainly unique in schools. This multi-aged approach fosters peer learning, and trust and comfort between people of various ages. As well, it does not socially penalize those students who are working either ahead or behind their peers.
Therefore, teachers need to use tutorial instruction, rather than lecture-based, teacher-paced instruction. This facilitates academic mentoring, with students being able to ask questions and receive assistance in answering them. In academic pursuits, students are encouraged to compete with themselves, to surpass their historical achievements, and work towards their current, personal goals. They may participate in designing their assignments and projects in line with their interests, and they use manipulative materials to carry them out. They participate in the community for real-world learning. In non-COVID years, we do this through field trips, volunteerism, internships, and international travel. Since it is a COVID year, because we have small class sizes, we are able to socially distance our students, and when we need to engage in remote learning, we contact our students daily. Banbury Crossroads is the school when students may experience learning activities that are impossible in large institutions. Banbury Crossroads is a fine example of unique, innovative schooling!
If you’re considering a small school for your extroverted child, make sure it offers plenty of social opportunities, including the ability to seek out and interact with different peer groups. Since smaller schools have smaller and less diverse student populations than big schools, it can sometimes be more challenging for your child to find a like-minded group of friends—friends with similar interests, values, etc.
“It’s important to look at the social makeup of the school,” says Ruth Rumack of Ruth Rumack's Learning Space. "Is there enough variety that your child will have a group that they feel connected with? Because you want to have friends that are like-minded and you want to be in a social situation where you feel honoured and respected. Variety can also be found in extracurriculars, leadership programs, and sports activities, which tend to have kids with a wide range of personalities.”
Also, make sure a school’s teaching and learning approach is suitable for your social child. “For instance, a school focusing on individual learning instead of group learning may not play into your child’s strengths,” say Ann and Karen Wolff, Toronto-based education consultants at Wolff Educational Services. “You want to make sure the social, emotional, and academic realities of the classroom are a match for your child’s personality.”
Smaller schools often have small classrooms and tight-knit communities, which can make it easier for your introverted child to come out of their shell, make friends, and feel like they belong. Since they’re less socially overwhelming, your child should find it easier to navigate their social environment. And since they’re conducive to group work, small classes often have plenty of interaction, which can help your child develop critical interpersonal skills.
Of course, small schools normally have a less diverse student population than big schools, which can sometimes make it more challenging to find a group of like-minded peers—peers with similar personalities, interests, values, etc. This makes it especially important to ask a school about its extracurricular programs, which can help your introverted child establish an intimate social circle.
THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Banbury Crossroads School
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