Head of House is the title for the Professors at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who are responsible for the one of the four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. They may serve concurrently as Deputy Head but not as Headmaster.
Provided they were in the House while a student at Hogwarts, teachers at Hogwarts may apply for the role. They are 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 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.
Heads of House need to be nearby 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. They probably reside 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 can travel to Hogwarts when they live nearby, the school is very protected which means Apparition, the Floo Network, or a Portkey would not be easy.
When they decide to live in Hogwarts, they will most likely will 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 the Head of House when 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.
The 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.
At the beginning of the sixth year for students, the Head of House will sit with each student and look at what subjects they want to take and whether they have obtained the O.W.L. grade they needed to continue. They will advise them on what to do when they haven't.
When the weekend Apparition Course takes place at the school, the Heads of House attend and help oversee the participating students from their House.
They may be used as a personal reference whenever one of their former students seeks employment.
As every Head of House attended Hogwarts in the house they lead, they often encourage their team to win at events. 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.
Known Heads of Houses
- Salazar Slytherin (Medieval times)
- Horace Slughorn (? - some time prior to 1981)
- Severus Snape (1981 - 1997)
- Horace Slughorn (1997 - ?)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Notes and references