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Head of House is the title for a Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who is responsible for the one of the four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. It is possible for a Head of House to serve concurrently as Deputy Head but not as Headmaster.
A Head of House must have been a member of that House while a student at Hogwarts. It is possible that a shortage of teachers who had been in Slytherin after the First Wizarding War paved the way for Severus Snape to become Head of that House at age twenty-one, a remarkably young age for such a position. On the return of Horace Slughorn, who had been Head of House when Snape was a student, Snape jealously guarded the prerogatives of the Headship.
The precise mechanism by which a Head of House is chosen is not known, though it is likely they are appointed by the Headmaster of the school.
Duties and life at school
As with regular professors, most Heads of Houses probably reside at Hogwarts throughout the school year, though this is not always so. Minerva McGonagall owned a cottage in nearby Hogsmeade during her marriage to Elphinstone Urquart in the 1980s. Someone could visit a home that is further from Hogwarts in their free time, by means of Apparition, the Floo Network, or a Portkey. However, because the Heads of Houses need to be available for emergency situations (such as when they informed students of new safety measures in 1993), it is unlikely that they can be far from the Hogwarts/Hogsmeade area for too long, except during holidays.
If a Head of House chooses to stay at Hogwarts throughout the school year, they might have 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.
While any professor can give a student detention or take points from any House, they speak to a Head of House if the student is in more than a little trouble. Professor McGonagall once told Draco Malfoy that she would see Professor Snape about him, after catching him out of bed at night.
A Head of House collects signed permission forms from their House's third year students, verifying that the students have permission to visit Hogsmeade on certain weekends. They also hold 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.
When a weekend Apparition Course take place at the school, a Head of House attends and helps to oversee the participating students from their House.
A Head of House may be used a personal reference whenever one of their former students seeks employment. In 1996, when Vincent Crabbe forcefully held Neville Longbottom in Dolores Umbridge's office, Professor Snape said that he would have to mention Neville's possible suffocation if Crabbe ever applied for a job.
Known Heads of Houses
- Salazar Slytherin (Medieval times)
- Horace Slughorn (? - 1981)
- Severus Snape (1981 - 1997)
- Horace Slughorn (1997 - ?)
Notes and references