Joined: 15 February 2005
I wanted to post this cos I don't think that Hogwarts will reopen in Book 7. I just wanted eveyone else's view! PS, this is a very long read! Sorry.
Someone please "sticky" this! Cheers.
Hogwarts appears to be the only major school of magical arts in Britain, training people with magical abilities to become fully qualified witches and wizards. Its status is not discussed in great detail in the Harry Potter novels, but it is known to be a co-educational secondary boarding school taking children from ages 11 to 18. J. K. Rowling initially said there are about 1000 students at Hogwarts; she amended this number to be about six hundred when 1000 seemed unusually high for such few people in Harry's year.
There are several other schools of magic mentioned by name in the Harry Potter novels: one, Beauxbatons, is located in France, while Durmstrang is probably based in the far north of Central or Eastern Europe. The name of another school, Salem Witches' Institute, suggests that it may be found in North America. Goblet of Fire also mentions an unnamed school in Brazil. It is also possible to study magic by distance learning, a method used by at least one member of the ancillary staff at Hogwarts.
Management of the school is undertaken by the Headmaster (or Headmistress), assisted by a Deputy Headmaster (or Headmistress). The Head is answerable to the twelve-member Board of Governors.
It is unclear how Hogwarts is funded, or what its fee structure is. In the sixth book of the series a special fund for books or equipment for needy students is mentioned.
Each year during the summer, a letter is sent to the magical children in Britain who are expected to attend Hogwarts in the following school year. Acceptance or rejection of a seat at Hogwarts must be mailed by 31 July. The letter also contains a list of supplies, spell books, uniform, and other things that the student will need to bring for use at school. The prospective student is expected to buy all the necessary materials, normally from shops in Diagon Alley, a secret street near Charing Cross in London. Students who cannot afford their supplies can receive financial aid from the school, as was the case with young Tom Riddle.
Letters to Muggle-born wizards, who may not be aware of their powers or are unfamiliar with the concealed society of witches and wizards, are delivered in person by wizards, who can then explain to the parents all about the wizarding world, and convince them that it's not a hoax.
The school year begins on 1 September.
Students travel to King's Cross station in London to board the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9, arriving at the train station in Hogsmeade. First-year students are accompanied by the groundskeeper to small boats, which magically sail across the Hogwarts lake. The older students travel up to the castle in carriages drawn by Thestrals.
When the first year students first arrive at the castle, they do not go directly to the Great Hall for the feast that marks the start of the year. Instead, they must first undergo a very important ritual, The Sorting.
Students at Hogwarts are divided into four houses, each bearing the name of one of the school's original founders. As Minerva McGonagall said in Philosopher's Stone, "The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your House, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your House common room." Following a short speech from the deputy headmaster or headmistress, students line up and wait for their name to be called. One by one, students are seated upon a stool in front of the rest of the student body, and a magical hat called the Sorting Hat is placed on their heads. This hat examines their mind and assigns them to one of four Houses based on their personality and intelligence. After making up its mind, the hat shouts out the name of the House that it has decided, and the student joins his or her Housemates.
The student body of hogwarts is divided into four Houses, each named after the wizard or witch that founded it. Because students spend nearly all their time at school with fellow members of their own house, this is a very important part of hogwarts.
Each of the school Houses has a Head of House who exercises additional pastoral and disciplinary responsibilities over his or her House. At the beginning of the series, the Heads of House are Severus Snape for Slytherin, Minerva McGonagall for Gryffindor, Filius Flitwick for Ravenclaw, and Pomona Sprout for Hufflepuff.
Throughout the school year, the four houses compete to earn 'house points'. As a form of incentive or punishment, the achievements or failures of each student — academic or disciplinary — cause their respective house to gain or lose points. In book one, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Neville Longbottom find themselves shunned by other Gryffindor students after they are responsible for losing a significant number of house points. Points are recorded in four enchanted hourglasses located in the School's Entrance Hall. For each point or penalty a student earns, a jewel matching the colour of the house (red rubies for Gryffindor, yellow topaz for Hufflepuff, blue sapphires for Ravenclaw, and green emeralds for Slytherin) will rise or fall inside the relevant hourglass. At the end of each school year, the points are added up, and the house with the most points wins the House Cup.
The award or docking of points is automatically detected by magical means, and adjustments are made to the display in the relevant hourglass. It would appear that for an authority figure to deduct points, they must announce the deduction aloud, otherwise no points are removed. For example, when Inquisitorial Squad member Montague tried to dock points from Fred and George Weasley, they managed to lock him inside a cabinet before he could say the words, and thus the points were not deducted.
There appear to be no fixed numbers of points attached to specific actions; this number is decided by a teacher on the spot and may vary greatly. For example in book one, Hermione is punished by only 5 points for (as she claimed) risking her life by seeking a fight with a troll, while later Harry, Hermione, and Neville lose 50 points each for simply being out of the dormitory at night. Houses also receive points based on their performances in Quidditch, such as in Harry's third year.
Hogwarts' school year is structured in a similar way to other muggle (Non-magic) schools and colleges in the UK, with a three-term year punctuated by holidays at Christmas and Easter and bounded by the long summer vacation. Students may optionally go home for the Christmas break. Those that choose to stay at the castle do not attend class, and attend the feast on Christmas day. There are normally four feasts per year (Start-of-year, Halloween, Christmas, and end-of-year), though in Harry's fourth year, there was a fifth feast to celebrate the beginning of the Triwizard tournament.
Students also do not attend classes on the week of Easter, but this is much less enjoyable for the students due to the large amouts of work that teachers assign to their students beforehand.
Other then summer, Easter, and Christmas, students do not get days off for holidays, though there is always a feast on Halloween, and in Harry Potter's second year, Professor Lockhart decided to celebrate Valentine's Day, much to the dislike of the rest of the staff and the students.
As Hogwarts is a school of magic, students are not taught ordinary subjects like math and English; It is expected that they have a fairly good grasp on these before they enter school.
First and second year students all learn the same subjects:
In their third year, students choose a number of additional subjects to take. These include:
During their first four years, students need only to pass each of their subjects before advancing to the next level the following year. Regular exams and lessons usually seem to be graded on a numerical scale from 0 (bottom marks) to 100 (full marks) although some students routinely get higher than perfect scores. If a student fails their year, they need to repeat it in the following school year, as was the case for Marcus Flint.
To qualify as a registered practitioner of magic, students must take the compulsory O.W.L. examinations in their fifth year, and may proceed to the N.E.W.T. level, a more advanced exam regimen covering fewer subjects but in more depth, in the seventh year.
Subjects are graded on the following scale:
The O.W.L.s roughly corresponds to the O-Level (now replaced by GCSE), and the N.E.W.T.s to the A-level examinations used in the English state school system. In order to proceed to N.E.W.T., a student usually needs to have achieved at least an E in their O.W.L.s of the same subject, although some professors (e.g. Severus Snape) insist upon a grade of O. Students who fail their exams or don't make high enough grades continue to take O.W.L.-level classes in their sixth and seventh years.
At the beginning of their sixth year, students speak briefly with their head of house and decide which classes to continue in depending on their O.W.L scores and their goals after school. The classes they decide to continue are considerably more advanced.
Due to the fact that they dropped one or more classes, students in their sixth and seventh year may get several class sessions off per week. but because of the heavy workload that each of their classes assign them, they usually spend these studying and doing homework. At the end of their seventh and final year, students take the N.E.W.T. tests, which examine what the student has learned over their entire stay at Hogwarts. Many professions require high grades in these tests, meaning that students must work very hard to ensure that they pass.
Aside from the teachers, Hogwarts has a large number of support staff, including:
The day begins at Hogwarts with breakfast in the Great Hall. Students sit at their own House table and can eat, socialize, and finish homework at the last minute. At the head table, at the far end of the hall, the headmaster eats with the professors. During breakfast, owls bring in mail for the students; this could be the morning issue of The Daily Prophet, letters from friends or parents, sweets from home or anything else. A bell signals the start of the first class of the morning at 9 AM.
There are two long morning classes with a short ten minute break in between them for students to get to their next class (the castle is enormous and it is common for students, especially first years, to get lost). After lunch in the Great Hall, classes resume at 1 PM, and there is a break around teatime before another class period. First year students sometimes get Friday afternoon off. In the evening students eat their dinner in the Great Hall, after which they are expected to be in their common rooms for studying and socializing.
The four House common rooms are guarded by paintings that require a password to get past. Inside are the common rooms, in which are comfortable armchairs and sofas for the pupils, as well as tables for studying. There are fireplaces to keep the rooms warm, and students relax here in the evenings, or else sit at desks studying. There are notice boards in each common room too, as well as at other strategic points throughout the school. The students stay in their House dormitories while school is in session, which branch off from the various common rooms. Each year gets two rooms; one for boys and one for girls. Each student sleeps in a large four poster bed with bed covers and heavy curtains in the House colours, and thick white pillows. There is a bedside table for each bed, and each dormitory has a jug of cool water and glasses on a tray.
On designated weekends, Hogwarts students in their third year or older, with a signed permission slip, are permitted to walk to the nearby Hogsmeade village, where they can relax at the many pubs, restaurants and shops. There appears to be a good relationship between the school and the village, and the students get along well with the locals. Favorite places in Hogsmeade include Honeydukes Sweetshop, Zonko's Joke Shop (now closed), clothing stores such as Gladrags Wizardwear, the Shrieking Shack (which is rumoured to be the most haunted building in Britain, making it a tourist attraction) and the pub The Three Broomsticks.
The food served at Hogwarts is, according to the students, very good. The house-elves at Hogwarts are skilled chefs, and cook a wide variety of dishes for every meal. The food served at the school is fresh and grown locally; the school has vegetable patches by the greenhouses. The meats and other condiments are probably bought in Hogsmeade village, and the various dishes are prepared in the kitchens directly below the Great Hall and, at meal times, magically transported up so that they appear before the students. Hogwarts food is typically British, although the school sometimes makes exceptions (during the Triwizard Tournament, foreign dishes were served in honor of the visiting schools). The usual beverages (apart from water) are tea, coffee, and pumpkin juice.
Apart from losing points from a house, serious misdeeds at Hogwarts are punishable by detention.
According to the school caretaker, Argus Filch, detention meant subjection to various forms of torture until relatively recently, but in present times usually involves assisting staff or faculty with tedious or perilous tasks. Ironically, when, students are caught wandering around the castle at night in book one, for their "detention" they are sent to the even more dangerous Forbidden Forest.
During their fifth year, two fifth-year students from each House are picked to be Prefects, which grants them extra privileges and disciplinary responsibilities. There are six prefects per house, all from the fifth, sixth, and seventh year students. The leaders of the student body, the Head Boy and Head Girl, are drawn from the seventh year students, and are usually former prefects.
There is some ambiguity in whether prefects can reward or punish fellow students using the point system. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, prefect Percy Weasley takes house points from Gryffindor. However, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, reference is made to the prefects' lack of this particular power when several Slytherin students are promoted to the Inquisatorial Squad, thereby receiving and broadly abusing the right to dock points. This discrepancy appeared to be a simple mistake on J. K. Rowling's part, although there are a few other theories, including that Percy was bluffing the younger students, or that prefects may take points from their own house only, or that the rules had changed without mention in the three years between books.
The castle has extensive grounds, including a loch, a large and dense forest, called the Forbidden Forest because of the dangerous creatures living there, a number of greenhouses and other outbuildings, and a full-size Quidditch pitch. There is also an owlery that houses all of the owls owned by the school and those owned by students. The castle is surrounded by mountains.
The village of Hogsmeade is used as a transit hub and lodging for visitors to the school, and is the location of the nearest railway station. Hogsmeade is a magical village, and is famous for its Honeydukes Sweetshop, several well known magical joke shops and pubs, and is popular with Hogwarts students, who visit while on breaks from school. Hogsmeade station is reached by a dedicated train service called the Hogwarts Express, which departs from London's King's Cross railway station. On a map drawn by J. K. Rowling for the movie crew, the station appears to be south-east of the school, while Hogsmeade Village appears to be north-west.
Since Apparition is not possible on the school grounds, due to magical security charms, Hogwarts Express is the primary means of transportation to and from Hogwarts. It is possible to arrive by means other than the school train however; by using broomsticks, Apparating to a nearby location and walking in (as demonstrated in book six), or using other magical means of traveling such as Floo powder, and portkeys (book four). All of these methods of entry still require the breaching of the school's network of protective charms and magical barriers, however. The school also owns a number of carriages, drawn by Thestrals, which bring students from Hogsmeade station to the school. First-year students, after arriving at the Hogsmeade station by the Hogwarts Express, traditionally cross the lake by boat to reach the castle, while the rest of the students are taken by the Thestral-drawn carriages. The carriages pass through enormous gates flanked by winged boars, and then ramble up a curving drive to the main entrance of the castle, passing the loch on their way. After the students have entered the campus, the gates are locked and stringent security measures are reinstalled, as Harry found when he arrived late in Half-Blood Prince.
Slowly, cracks began to appear among the four professors. Salazar Slytherin wanted to admit only pure-blood students (students born in families consisting solely of persons with magical abilities), but the other three founders disagreed. Slytherin distrusted half-bloods (only one magical parent) and Muggle-borns (no magical parents) because of the widespread persecution of magic users at the time. Arguments broke out among the founders. Slytherin then secretly built the Chamber of Secrets and left. When an eventual successor, the Heir of Slytherin, returned to the school, he or she would be able to open the Chamber, unleash a horrible Basilisk, and purge the school of all non-pureblood students. The only descendant known to have discovered the Chamber is Tom Riddle, who later came to be known as Lord Voldemort.
Little information is given in the Harry Potter novels about the history of Hogwarts after its foundation, at least prior to the 1940s.
About three hundred years after the school was founded, the Triwizard Tournament began between the three most prestigious Magical schools in Europe: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. This Tournament was considered the best way for wizards of different nationalities to meet and socialize. The Tournament continued for six centuries, until the death toll became too high, and the Tournament was discontinued until 1994.
In Harry's second year, the Chamber was opened by Ginny Weasley under the influence of a diary written by Riddle (one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes). The diary allowed Riddle's memory to possess Ginny, enabling him to act through her to open the Chamber a second time. During the summer before school, Lucius Malfoy secretly planted the diary in her schoolbooks, with the hope that she would be caught and held responsible, thus bringing an end to Arthur Weasley's Muggle Protection Act, as well as purging Hogwarts of non-pureblood witches and wizards. However, Harry Potter discovered the truth, destroyed the diary, and killed the basilisk that was living in the Chamber.
In Harry's fourth year, the Triwizard Tournament was held once more, though with several safety measures in place. Unfortunately, Barty Crouch Jr., disguised as Professor Alastor Moody, cunningly managed to enter Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire under a nonexistent fourth school, ensuring that he would be chosen by the Goblet, an impartial judge. Consequently, Harry became a fourth champion, to the disgust of the representatives from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, as well as many Hogwarts students. Crouch helped Harry along the way, ensuring that he would win, especially in the last Task of the Tournament. Prior to the task, Crouch had turned the Triwizard Cup into a Portkey, which carried Harry straight into the hands of Lord Voldemort. Harry escaped, but Voldemort succeeded in using Harry's blood in a complex spell, which allowed him to attain a bodily form and defeat some of Harry's magical protections.
Hogwarts was also threatened when the Ministry of Magic began implementing "Educational Decrees" in Harry's fifth, as part of a conspiracy to discredit Albus Dumbledore. Dolores Umbridge, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, was the centre of this plan. With the Educational Decrees, she slowly took control of Hogwarts, and eventually replaced Albus Dumbledore as headmaster. After she was attacked by centaurs in the Forbidden Forest and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, was forced to accept that Voldemort had returned, Umbridge was removed from the school.
At the end of Harry's sixth year, headmaster Albus Dumbledore was murdered by Severus Snape, employee of the school. The headmistress of Hogwarts as of the end of the sixth novel is Minerva McGonagall, in an acting capacity following the death of Dumbledore. Since his death, the closure of the school during the crisis has been discussed with many of the faculty adamant that it should remain open. However, the faculty agreed to follow "established procedures" and the school governors will have the final say. The seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series will determine the fate of Hogwarts School. In a 1999 interview, Rowling said that one of Harry's classmates would eventually become a teacher at Hogwarts; this implies that Hogwarts will remain open, or, if it does close, reopen eventually.
The motto of Hogwarts is "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus," which in Latin means "A sleeping dragon [is] never to be tickled/poked." Creator J.K. Rowling said she wanted a practical motto for Hogwarts, since so many schools have vague ones such as "Reach for the stars" — approximately "Continge astris" in Latin.
The matter of the song not being sung every year was addressed by J. K. Rowling on her web site. She cites the decline in the singing in recent years to the darker times in the wizarding world. "Should Dumbledore ever suggest a rousing encore, you may assume that he is on top form once more," she wrote.
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