There are both advantages and disadvantages to being a single subject teacher. But being a lone teacher does not mean you are alone and indeed it offers opportunities for networking and cross curricular working that you may not have or explore as a member of a larger department.
Here are some of the things that can be done to make sure you are not alone
1. Link schools – what are the nearest schools that teach your subject – find out asap and make friends. There also may be a lone teacher there as has happened in my case and we can help each other out!
2. Cross marking / verification – all subjects should have a rigorous cross marking system in place. This is slightly more difficult when you are the only one who teaches it but items 1 and 3 will help sort this out.
3. Dual qualification – find out if anyone else in the school is dual qualified in your subject. Don’t just go for the obvious combinations – I found a Maths teacher who was dual qualified as a languages teacher. They may not be teaching it actively but they could help with cross marking and verification. Its good for their CPD too! Win-win!
4. Take advantage of subject CPD – subject specific CPD days are few are far between so take advantage of what is out there and network effectively. Remember the most important thing you learn that day may not be from the person speechifying at the front but the person you sit next to at lunch.
5. Get out of your box – working with other subjects is key when you are a lone subject teacher. As an important part of CfE it also looks good when you are going for a job or promotion. I’ve worked with Geography, Art, Music and History so far this year as well as languages colleagues.
It is all up to you. As a single subject teacher the onus is on you to make the role your own. Put the systems in place so that you get the support you need. If it doesn’t exist you have to make it exist.