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The four Hogwarts founders that were also the first Heads of Houses

Head of House was the title for the professors at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who were responsible for the one of the four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.[1] They might serve concurrently as Deputy Headmaster but not as Headmaster.


Provided they were in the House while a student at Hogwarts, teachers at Hogwarts might apply for the role.[2] They were most likely selected by the Head of the school.

Severus Snape was made Head of Slytherin at the remarkably young age of twenty-one, when he only just returned to Hogwarts. It may be that he was the only teacher who was in Slytherin, following the retirement of Horace Slughorn in 1981. When Slughorn returned in 1996, Snape jealously guarded the prerogatives of the Headship, suggesting the teacher may not have to retire to lose the role.


A Head of House was charged with monitoring and maintaining the welfare, safety,[3] and discipline[4] of all members of their designated House, as well as corresponding with the parents of said students whenever necessary.[5] They needed to be nearby for emergency situations, such as when they informed students of new safety measures in the 1992–1993 school year.[6] It is unlikely that they could be far from the Hogwarts/Hogsmeade area for too long, except during holidays.

They probably resided at Hogwarts throughout the school year. However, Minerva McGonagall owned a cottage in nearby Hogsmeade during her marriage to Elphinstone Urquart in the 1980s. Although they could travel to Hogwarts when they lived nearby, the school was very protected, which meant Apparition, the Floo Network, or a Portkey would not be easy, unless special arrangements were granted.

When they decided to live at Hogwarts, they most likely had private quarters near their House's common room. On at least one occasion, Professor McGonagall heard the noise of a party in the Gryffindor Tower from wherever she was sleeping. This may be the reason why Severus Snape did not take an office closer to his Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom in 1996, despite no longer teaching Potions.

The Head of House was in charge of the discipline of their students. While any professor could give a student detention or take points from any House, they discussed the matter with the Head of House when the student was in more serious trouble.[7] Professor McGonagall once told Draco Malfoy that she would see Professor Snape about him, after catching him out of bed at night.[8]

The Head of House collected signed permission forms from their House's third year students, verifying that the students had permission to visit Hogsmeade on certain weekends. However, they did not have the power to grant this permission. In 1993, Harry Potter asked Professor McGonagall, as his Head of House, to sign his slip when the Dursleys wouldn't. Though she was sympathetic, she refused on the grounds that it wouldn't be appropriate as the slip had to be signed by a parent or guardian.[9]

They held career counselling meetings with fifth year students, advising them on what N.E.W.T.-level classes they should take in preparation for their desired careers.[10]

At the beginning of the sixth year for students, the Head of House sat with each student and discussed the subjects they wanted to take and whether they had obtained the O.W.L. grade they needed to continue. They would advise them on what to do when they hadn't. During the 1996–1997 school year, Professor McGonagall advised Harry Potter that he and Ron Weasley would need to significantly improve their Potions grade to obtain the O.W.L. needed to qualify for their desired career as Aurors.[11] (Ironically, both became Aurors, even after failing their Potions O.W.L.s, due to their significant roles in the fall of Lord Voldemort.)[12]

During the weekend when the Apparition course took place at the school, the Heads of House would attend and help oversee the participating students from their House.[13]

They might be used as a personal reference whenever one of their former students sought employment.[10]

As every Head of House attended Hogwarts in the house they led, they often encourage their team to win at events.[14] The house pride and rivalry was seen when McGonagall and Snape were Head of Gryffindor and Slytherin. They would both support their team when they played Quidditch.[15]

Known Heads of Houses

House Head Portrait Term of office
Gryffindor Godric Gryffindor
Medieval times[16]
Tobias Stump
Tobias Stump.jpg
?–pre 1970s
Minerva McGonagall
Neville Longbottom
By 2008[17]
Hufflepuff Helga Hufflepuff
Medieval times[16]
Pomona Sprout
?–pre 2017[5]
Ravenclaw Rowena Ravenclaw
Rowena Ravenclaw WWHP.jpg
Medieval times[16]
Filius Flitwick[3]
Flitwick GOFF promo.png
Slytherin Salazar Slytherin
Medieval times[16]
Horace Slughorn
Severus Snape
Horace Slughorn
Horace Slughorn Slug Club Christmas Party.jpg
Unknown house Prendergast[19] 1900s-?

See also


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
  2. J.K. Rowling Official Site FAQ, available via Internet Archive
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29 (The Phoenix Lament)
  4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 14 (Cornelius Fudge)
  7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 13 (Mad-Eye Moody)
  8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 14 (Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback)
  9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  12. PotterCast Interviews J.K. Rowling, part one
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18 (Birthday Surprises)
  14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 9 (The Midnight Duel)
  15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  17. Harry Potter: Magic Awakened - October 2021 special event (see this video)
  18. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
  19. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore: Movie Magic
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts Houses
Gryffindor ClearBG.png
Hufflepuff ClearBG.png
Slytherin ClearBG.png
Namesake Founders
Godric Gryffindor · Helga Hufflepuff · Rowena Ravenclaw · Salazar Slytherin
Heads of House
Minerva McGonagall · Pomona Sprout · Filius Flitwick · Horace Slughorn
House Ghosts
Nearly Headless Nick · Fat Friar · Grey Lady · Bloody Baron