2023 Information Sessions

Friday, June 9 – 10am
Thursday, June 15 – 10am

To register, please email [email protected]

Welcome to the first self-directed private school in Calgary!

Banbury Crossroads (established in 1979) offers full day Pre-K to Grade 12 program. Our ultimate goal is to foster student autonomy within a safe, relaxed environment of mutual respect. Our small (10:1) class sizes allow teachers to have quality time with their students – providing individualized academic instruction; teaching each child individually. This nurturing setting generates meaningful, trusting relationships that enhance learning. Students learn to communicate, negotiate, collaborate and solve problems. These soft skills are helpful as they enter the wider community through field trips, volunteerism, and internships. Banbury Crossroads youth become intrinsically motivated and empowered to chart the course of their own education and, through their passionate engagement in learning, to contribute to the wider world. We would love to have you here! 

Take advantage of our two day try-out – Call (403) 270-7787 or email [email protected]

8 Reasons for studying at Banbury!

  1. Academically Innovative: Where learning is really fun!
  2. One-on-One Teaching: That is called individualized learning!
  3. Self-Directed Learning: Student-paced!
  4. Interest-Based: You learn based on your interests.
  5. Small class sizes: Maximum ratio 1:10!
  6. Home-like Setting: It feels like home.
  7. Mixed Aged Groups: Age 3-6, 7-11, and 12-18.
  8. Mutual Respect: We immediately resolve disputes which creates mutual respect

Education Outside the Box

For over 40 years, Banbury Crossroads has been a school that exists outside the box of conventional schooling. We understand that children are people. They are multi-faceted persons who need and seek development in a balanced manner. Banbury Crossroads offers children a unique and innovative opportunity to pursue their education in a relaxed family atmosphere that celebrates their individuality, preserves their autonomy and enhances their intellectual and social growth. In order to offer our students the ultimate in concentration and the ultimate in relaxation—both attributes necessary for optimal learning—we have challenged the prevailing assumptions about traditional schooling. Since most schools today are the direct descendant of institutions designed to deliver mass education to the lower classes in Britain 150 years ago, educators have maintained many historical ways of achieving social and academic priorities. Large classes and large schools, using a teacher-paced, lecture-based method of instruction, suitable for preparing youth for factory work, have persisted due to their economic efficiency. However, over the past half-century, the study of developmental psychology and learning theory, and the change in cultural expectations for educational outcomes, has rendered it wise to transform the traditional methods of helping children to learn. Throughout the years that children are in schools, they change from infants to adults. Schooling needs to honor the students’ humanity and dignity. In this 21st Century, there are many means through which adults can work with children in providing relevant opportunities to learn about life. The mandate that Banbury Crossroads has chosen is to creatively form partnerships with parents in the process of helping young people explore the world outside them—culture, history, artistic and musical expression, scientific and mathematical theories, career needs, recreation and social interactions—and the world inside them—their talents, interests, motivations and driving principles by which they live. This is a process of learning how to learn, and how to think. In Banbury Crossroads, a new vision of what schooling can be has been clarified, and our existence provides a beacon of light to inspire future educators.

Banbury's Core Values

Students are happy and engaged in learning.

And that’s because of Self-Directed Learning! We engage students to plan their day and to design their assignments depending on their interests. We encourage them to make decisions about their goals, materials they need, and how to monitor their progress. We explore the world on many field trips! We don’t stress competition between students since it creates performance anxiety. And yes, we do follow the Alberta Curriculum, although we have no marks until Grade 10.

We teach and mentor each child individually.

Every child is different. Banbury trusts students to make scheduling decisions and to learn at their own pace. With our tutorial approach, teachers move around, assisting and teaching every child one-on-one, with daily feedback.

We encourage mutual respect.​

Every child is different. Banbury trusts students to make scheduling decisions and to learn at their own pace. With our tutorial approach, teachers move around, assisting and teaching every child one-on-one, with daily feedback.

We believe in multi-aged groups.

And that’s because this prevents social problems when children learn at different rates. Banbury operates three multi-aged groups: age 3–6, 7–11, and 12–18. Having students together with older or younger peers, and not having marks on report cards, gives classrooms a very different vibe. It reduces destructive judgment. At Banbury, every child is accepted the way he/she is. Also, children love to learn from each other! This way they learn so much for life… leadership skills too. 

We offer small class sizes.

Classrooms at Banbury are not traditional. You often will find cozy sofas or bean bags. With a ratio of 1:10, teachers have time to interact with students, look at their work and chat about how they are doing.


Banbury's Introductory Videos

Self-Directed-Learning creates autonomy

The simplest explanation is that Self-Directed Learning (SDL) is the opposite of Teacher-Directed Learning (TDL), which is that familiar approach we all know, and probably experienced in our own youth. Indeed, TDL is commonly used in conventional schools across the Western world, and it has been ever since the Industrial Revolution, when factory owners began educating the children of their factory workers. In the 1800s, political reformers were also interested in creating education for the masses. The approach that ensued was suited to life in factories. It was teacher-paced and lecture-based. The teacher controlled curricular assignments and assessment, organization of workspace, and time management. This way of organizing schools was economically-convenient for adults.

SDL, however, is fundamentally different in its structure and its manner of collaborating with students. SDL is based on a deep trust in children’s innate drive to learn about their environment, and thus is more participatory; decision-making is two-way. Teachers understand the curriculum and the skills necessary to thrive within the world; children know their own interests, motivation, and level of energy or ability. Decisions are made together in the best interests of the student. SDL uses an individualized tutorial, or small-group seminar, approach with students in multi-aged groups. Self-Directed Learning schools are convenient for students, as they are student-paced and designed to address students’ individual needs. 

SDL requires certain fundamental practices: teacher advisement, flexible scheduling, personalized programming, collaborative teaching environment, interactive learning environment, diagnosis of student developmental characteristics, authentic assessment, continuous progress and mastery learning. At Banbury, this collaborative and flexible mentorship, along with its small size, creates constructive, meaningful relationships in which students develop communication skills, mutual respect and empathy. The outside community is accessed more frequently, through field trips, volunteerism and internships. SDL promotes more student commitment to their activities and academic engagement. They learn that they get out of life what they put into it, which is an important life lesson. They access information at a deeper level, put more energy into the presentation of their work, and persist in their interests over time. They learn organizational skills and time management. These factors create a collaborative, peaceful and trusting school atmosphere. SDL promotes student choice and involvement in the work they do. It promotes productivity, self-confidence and autonomy—all being of utmost importance for adult life.

Advantages of SDL method

On Saturday October 19, 2013, in Edmonton, as The Canadian Coalition for Self-Directed Learning (CCSDL) wrapped up their annual conference, it dawned on us Banbury teachers that our school is so much more ahead of the other schools in the coalition. We thought we’d be going there to learn from other schools, but they were learning from us. Maybe it’s because Diane started teaching this way over 30 years ago and most of these schools were fairly new at it. Maybe it’s because we are so much smaller than those schools and are able to respond to individual students and to implement new ideas quite quickly. Maybe it’s because we are an independent school and therefore devoid of political and buracratical interference and retribution for not towing the line.  Whatever it is, it puts us in a leadership position. Our tiny little school, teaching the masses; can you believe it?     

The advantages of the SDL method are widely known amongst the coalition schools and are becoming familiar for many of the new “Flex” schools in Alberta who are trying it out in small ways. The message that education in this county is changing and has to respond to the different skill demands and digitalization of the 21st century was consistently being made. The need to develop more engaged learners, creative thinkers and able problem solvers is vital for success after high school. If Banbury is leading this group, then our students are at the forefront of what Alberta Education is hoping to do more of with their “Curriculum Redesign” which is slated to come out in the next few years. Students at Banbury will undoubtedly have immeasurable, but noticeable, advantages as the rest of the province endures a paradigm shift to a more student-focussed teaching style. As we see it, our students will be leading the masses and role modelling what SDL is. It will be second nature to them. How exciting!