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Banbury Crossroads School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Calgary, AB (Map)


Interview with Banbury Crossroads School Alum, Rachel Mclean

Rachel, an alumna of Banbury Crossroads School, describes how she benefited from the dedicated teachers, the small class size, and the flexible educational style that gives students agency over their learning. She also appreciates the school’s emphasis on working together, communication, and community. Having acquired tools for learning at Banbury, she says, helped her transition to university. Rachel also says Banbury would be a great choice for students who prefer a more active, self-paced approach to their learning, as opposed to the lecture-style educational approach.

Video Contents

Highlights from the interview

  • For me and for my family, what became the selling point was Banbury’s approach to neurodiversity and neurodivergence. They are able to accommodate students who have difficulties with attention and things like that. They are really great for just getting people to become self-sustaining, and to be able to support themselves with initial help from others. Obviously, those are skills that need to be built. That's one of the areas where public schools are frequently lacking.

  • There was a running element of people who were very self-possessed, who either had or were coming into a clear understanding of themselves. I think the school tends to both attract and encourage those traits, and that ability to understand yourself and understand your own needs. A lot of that has to do with being accountable to yourself. Your teachers are there to help you, but what you accomplish, and how you accomplish it, is up to you.

  • From listening to my friends talk about their experiences in school, Banbury feels like a much closer-knit community. You get to know everyone a little bit. It's just a really nice, friendly environment. Even though I was there for such a long time, I never really had a major issue with anyone. I never really felt isolated or attacked in any way. It was just a very friendly environment. You just knew everyone, and mostly everyone just got on with everyone else.

  • When I was in those younger grades, I couldn't sit still for more than five minutes. And that was never a problem at Banbury, because I could still be doing work. I was one of those kids that just had energy coming out my ears. Sometimes I was doing my schoolwork lying on the floor or sitting on a couch. And the teachers had a supportive attitude, ‘Hey, if that's what she needs to be doing, while she's learning, that's totally fine.’ It wasn't this need to make everything be a standard way, but it could look at people's idiosyncrasies and look at their diverse needs and just be able to say, ‘Okay, well, what can we do to make sure you still get the full learning experience, without hampering or constraining who you are as a person?’

  • I have an immense amount of respect for Diane, the principal, for her approach to problem-solving and maintaining community. Children are often not given that level of participation in conversation and community. So, looking back, and knowing that even 20 years ago, Diane was really firm about making sure everyone's voice was heard and that everyone was given a say is just really impressive to me.

  • Something that was always so nice was the ratio of students to teachers, which is really conducive to actually getting the support that you need. There's almost always someone available. If you're having trouble with a particular question, you can go up and ask about it.

  • What was super helpful to me, in transitioning to university, was having the tools to learn. Support is available at Banbury, but the work is up to you to do it. You’re not being held on task by somebody else. Sometimes, I could just go through three units in two weeks, and that wasn't a problem, because I wasn't being held back at anyone else's pace. And then, if I needed time to slow down, and really grasp the concept, I had that time available to me. It was flexible. That was incredibly useful, both for just learning subjects in general, but also just in terms of developing good work practices and being able to try and keep being accountable to yourself, instead of a higher authority.

  • There are teachers who are so dedicated to developing their syllabus, to really speak to the children, because they just really want to make sure the students are getting everything they need. The students are taught how to learn, how to engage with things, in such a way that learning is enjoyable, and not just a chore. And that's one of the things that you often just don't realise, when you're one of those students. But then looking back, seeing all of the work that went into that behind the scenes, is just really incredible.

  • You really get to have good working relationships with the teachers, because they're available to help, and their work isn’t separate from you. You can really work together, to try and create a course, or a working model that works well for you.

  • When my sister was in Grade 3 or 4, their class sat down and had a frank conversation, requesting their gym teacher to change his teaching style. Her class just really didn't like the way the teacher was approaching their classes. And so, they all got together and wrote a letter to Diane, the principal, saying, ‘We need to meet and talk about this.’ They had a respectful conversation, with all the kids in the class, and Diane, and the gym teacher. And he changed his teaching style, just because they sat down and had this frank conversation.

  • The school is accommodating, friendly, and colourful. It very much embraces nonconformity. It's got just a real mix of perspectives and approaches. So much of why the school was so effective for me was because it was very flexible.

  • The methods at Banbury are certainly good for anyone who struggles with a lecture style of teaching. Even at university, I always had a really hard time staying focused, when I am just being spoken at. So having a shift to being able to just have the materials and do the studying on your own, for anyone who has attention difficulties, or anything like that, it's super accommodating.

  • Respect was probably the biggest value throughout my years at Banbury. There were these little signs that listed the rights and responsibilities of being at Banbury, very much outlining how to live in a community, with other people, and in a respectful way. There was never really an attitude that anyone's complaint or problem was invalid for any reason. It was always met with a response, trying to find a good resolution to everything.

  • It’s the nature of it being a smaller school that some things might not be possible. For example, I would hear my friends talking about being involved in the dance program at their school, or the drama program, or with their school sports. And that's just not something that is plausible with a smaller school. Even though I had my own extracurriculars that I was really involved in, I never really got to do school productions of anything. And so that's something that I think I maybe missed out on a little bit. It's one of those things that's just fundamental to the structure of the school.

  • It might take a couple of weeks, or a month or two, for new students to get into the groove of the school, to change from this regimented learning system to having something that was more fluid and flexible. But I think that flexible style is really good, because it teaches you a lot of really worthwhile skills in terms of just being able to switch your approach as needed, and actually confront problems, confront obstacles in a more mature and responsible way, and learn how to adapt, which I think can be really important in later on in life.


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Key insights on Banbury Crossroads School

Each school is different. Banbury Crossroads School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

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Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of Banbury Crossroads School is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • 1:8 classroom sizes, multi-age classrooms, and a self-directed learning approach to education.
  • An intimate, family atmosphere teaches mutual respect, active listening and conflict resolution, and non-competitive cooperation.
Read our in-depth review

More video reviews

Roundtable Q&A (2020)

Watch our Banbury Crossroads School Q&A discussion with Pamela (Parent), Steve (Parent), Thomas (Alum) to gain fresh insight into the school’s culture, values, and strengths.

More written reviews


Parent, Hafeeza Atif (2020)

Best school in Calgary. All teachers are very nice, kind and helpful. Guidance at all points. They teach the concepts in a such a positive way and let the child learn at his/her own pace. Diane Siawte...


Parent, Thalia Zelnik (2020)

My daughter likes Banbury Crossroads School because of the very personal, family-oriented atmosphere she gets from her teachers and all the staff at the school. The student/teacher ratio is very good,...

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