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What I mean by "a school like Hogwart" is that:

  • students range from age 11 to about 18, with about a thousand students in total
  • most students live here during most of the year
  • it works in isolation with the rest of the world (so it has to rely on it own gymnasium for example). Assume supplies (like food, water, electricity, fuel...) are already taken care of.
  • students have special powers that can cause chaos (on the same scale as your average wizard student), staff may also have some
  • it is set in Europe, in the current times, with the place benefiting from some supernatural features that could be used to explained some eventual inconsistencies but should not alter this answer.
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    $\begingroup$ Have you looked into the staff size of equivalently sized normal schools? Any change from that would be entirely dependent up on the nature of magic in your world, and thus is story based. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2023 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not familiar with boarder schools at all, but you could start with this: chaminade.org/about/employee-directory , They have both middle school and high school, and even have a ministry department in place of magic. After that, give your local college a call and ask them what their staff requirements are for dorms, on a per-student basis. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2023 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ Depends on the student to teacher ratio $\endgroup$ May 10, 2023 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ Whatever the number, I can assure you that the teachers union will say it's not enough.... $\endgroup$ May 10, 2023 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ If time travel is possible in your world, then only one staff member is required, through judicious use of temporal multitasking. This is what Zathras did, after all. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    May 11, 2023 at 15:18

6 Answers 6

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Let's try to make a guesstimation from first principles.

There are a thousand children to be educated, supervised, nourished, and cared for.

When I was at school, the basic operational group was about 25 pupils, which, in 1970s to 1980s Romania, was called a class. I don't know how this basic group of pupils is called in English, so I'll go with class. Such a class goes through a full 4 or 8 year cycle mostly together; so for example, I started at my general school in class 1st B and ended eight years later in class 8th B. Then at highschool I started in class 9th D and ended four years later in class 12th D.

So, there are 1000 ÷ 25 = 40 basic groups of pupils. Since we know that a complete cycle is 8 years, this means that we have 40 ÷ 8 = 5 parallel classes in each year, Hogwarts 1st A, Hogwarts 1st B, Hogwarts 1st C, Hogwarts 1st D, Hogwarts 1st E, Hogwarts 2nd A, ..., Hogwarts 2nd E, Hogwarts 3rd A, ..., ..., Hogwarts 8th E.

We need at least one teacher, professor or supervisor per class at all times during lecture and individual study hours; let's assume that the schedule is 6 lecture hours, 6 individual study hours.

Since there are 40 classes attending lectures in parallel, we have at least 40 teachers or professors. Most usually, they won't do 6 hours of teching per day every day of the week, so let's multiply that with 1.5: we have a purely teaching staff of 60 teachers of professors. Some of them will have assistants or technicians; let's say maybe 30 assistants or technicians.

For the individual study period we need 40 supervisors to look after the pupils. We need a little more than 40 to account for sick days, holidays, and so on.

The teaching staff need secretaries to keep track of schedules, grades, lists of pupils, diplomas, payroll and so on. Where I worked back when, there were two of them for a staff of about 50; but Hogwarts is British, so we'll put 8 secretaries.

Then we needs cooks to feed those 1200–1300 people, plumbers, handymen, janitors, cleaning staff. I guesstimate one cook and one cleaning person for 50 people, 1 plumber, handyman and janitor for 100 people.

The school has extensive gardens, sportball fields, forests and so on. Let's put 50 gardeners, gamekeepers, field maintenance personnel.

Add in a minimum security staff, at least to patrol the fence and control the gate, say three shifts of 5 people plus 5 people extra to cover for sick days, holidays, or emergencies.

Finally, let's add 12 footmen and general men-at-all-works.

Over and above the functional personnel the school probably has some support staff -- accountants, librarians, printers (or scribes, don't know), medical personnel, carpenters, etc. Let's say 30 support personnel.

Type Number Observations
Teachers or professors 60 Includes physical education instructors etc.
Assistants or technicians 30 Take care of laboratory equipment, prepare experiments and so on
Supervisors or proctors 50 Look after the pupils after hours
Secretaries 8 Keep track of paperwork and schedules
Cooks 25 Feed the pupils, teaching staff, administrative staff
Cleaning staff 25 Keep clean, wash clothes
Plumbers, handymen, janitors 40 Perform maintenance of the school and equiment
Gardeners and other outdoorsy personnel 50 Maintain the gardens, sports fields etc.
Security 20 Control the gate, patrol the fences
Footmen etc. 12 Do whatever needs to be done
Support personnel 30 Accountants, librarians, medical staff, etc.
Total 350 People on the payroll of the school

So that overall there are some 350 people, more or less, working for the school. Plus of course the headmaster, assistant headmaster, their secretaries and servants... And speaking of servants, it is likely in the fictional interwar English landscape depicted in the films that every professor or teacher has their own servant.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 When two different methods hit the same answer that's a good sign its right. But you may want to bump up the number of teacher besides 17:1 being an abysmal student teacher ratio as classes get more advanced they get smaller and more specialized. Everyone takes introductory alchemy, most of the school is not going to take honors medical alchemy. that requires more specialized teachers. $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 10, 2023 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ @John: It is 11 to 18 year olds, what would have been grades 5 to 12 in the school system I went through, middle school and high school. It's not university level stuff, and nobody does any kind of real specialization. OK, they may be split at some point into the wizardry equivalent of humanities and sciences, but still. I am pretty sure that my 6th grade mathematics professor could have taught 12th grade calculus... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 10, 2023 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ Remember that one bit where Hermione is given the power to control spacetime just so she can take some extra classes? She wants to take all the optional classes, but I think later drops divination. Anyway, that part of the series gets pretty detailed in what subjects are taught at Hogwarts. There are seven compulsory classes, and five options, which most students pick two from. (At most real world British schools, at that age, there would be roughly 6 compulsory classes, and students would pick roughly 4 optional ones from roughly 10 options.) $\endgroup$
    – tobyink
    May 11, 2023 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like some of the numbers are overestimated, but the level of detail of this answer makes it great nevertheless. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2023 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ @AnneAunyme: Some numbers are likely overestimated, others are likely underestimated. For example, as John and Tobyink say, the teaching staff is likely to be larger. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 11, 2023 at 12:00
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300-400 staff.

Most primary schools in the US average ~100 staffer per 1000 students, but American schools usually don't deal with students living on campus and kinda suck anyway.

Colleges which have students live on campus average a ratio of 5 students per full time staff member, about twice the ratio a elementary school has. Staff includes everything from teachers, to administrators, custodial, security, counselors, even groundskeepers. That would give us around 200 staff. Larger primary boarding schools have a similar ratio, 5:1 again, so we are good footing here. Plus this is supposed to be a high end school so the ratio should be low.

BUT... colleges and boarding schools tend to have large supporting towns around them, you say this place is very isolated. Without a supporting town a lot more things will need to be handled in house. Also around 25% of a colleges' staff are part time, which would not count in such a ratio. accounting for both these factors a number of 1.5 to 2 times the staff is more realistic, or 3 students per staff. You might argue the lack of modern technology should increase it even more, these are modern ratios, but magic should at least make up for that plus historic schools were more ok with cramming more students per class. But Remeber they are not just providing student services, since the staff has to live on campus they must be providing for as well, a professor is likely not going their own laundry and its unlikely all the staff is eating at the student cafeteria. Normally the surrounding town provides these services but that is not an option here. All regular services to all staff and student must be provided in house.

If you want to use magic to account for some jobs being filled and mitigate the town issue 300 staff would not be unrealistic. Of course these are all averages. The more high end you want the school to be, the more staff it should have, the more magic takes care of menial task, the fewer it needs. Some boarding schools have ratios as low as 2 students per staff, of course those are very expensive.

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_288.asp

https://www.nais.org/Statistics/Documents/NAISFactsAtAGlance201112.pdf

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  • $\begingroup$ Great answer - at least gets him in the ballpark. Magic could make it go either way (more staff because students can use magic, or less staff because the staff can use magic) but that's more "story based". For a worldbuilding answer, the important point is all you mentioned: groundskeepers, cafeteria workers, etc, and, if isolated, probably a team of construction workers with a lot of general handyman skills to keep the place running top to bottom. Someone's gotta sweep those chimneys and keep all the lights lit. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    May 10, 2023 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think one can reasonably adjust the ratio estimate based on different factors, without considering what these staff members would actually do. Considering that "supplies are already taken care of", it's unclear how being isolated would even increase the ratio at all, never mind increasing it that much. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    May 11, 2023 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ I found a list of the top 100 universities (couldn't find secondary education) with the best student-to-staff ratios. They go as low as 0.9, but the handful below 3.8 are all medical schools. So I'd say 300-400 is not absurd, but it's probably an outlier. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    May 11, 2023 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's likely Hogwarts administration was able to use magic to reduce the number of required staff, with a ratio as high as 8:1, and additionally a number of the staff would have been house elves. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2023 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @NotThatGuy basically no boarding school staff exist to provide supplies, they deal with services, cooking, cleaning, groundskeeping maintenance, administration, laundry, medical care, security. And I discussed why the number is higher no modern school is isolated many many services are provided by subcontractors or by the local community, but the magic school does not have that option. $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 11, 2023 at 19:57
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About 100

A lot of answers WAY over estimate how many staff are needed. Instead of treating this question like: how many grown men does it take to take care of a bunch of royal brats at a top crust school, I think it's better to address the school as more similar to a standard middle class boarding school since Hogwarts serves, not just the Malfoys, but also the Grangers and Weasleys of society.

There is also the flawed idea in other answers that remoteness matters. This is a school of magic. The school can be 1000 miles away from anything important and still be highly connected to society via portal or teleportation spells. You also need to assume that some things will actually take less labor in this world than in our own entirely because magic can do things that technology can not. So when you look at things that magic can normally do in fantasy settings like instant healing, cleaning, repairing, etc... then it means that a magic school SHOULD take fewer staff than a muggle school of similar size and quality.

Following the same Logic as the accepted answer, but doing actual research, following statistical averages, and accounting for various levels of magic, I've come up with a much more realistic table of required staff:

Type Number Observations
Teachers or professors 49-62 Based on average teacher to student ratios in England
Assistants or technicians 29-37 Based on 1.69:1 teacher to assistant ratio in England
Supervisors or proctors 0-50 Most boarding schools have teachers who live on site to fill this role during after hours. So, these are rarely unique staff personnel. When they are unique staff, you generally have 1 proctor per dormitory floor which will average about a 1:20 ratio depending on the school
Administrative staff 4-6 Can't find any specific sources, but based on my children's schools and relative schools sizes, this should be a principle, a VP, an 2-4 secretaries.
Cooks 2-6 If 3 shifts of 5 cooks can feed a crew of 5000 on a Nimitz Aircraft Carrier which has to operate around the clock, 1000 kids can be feed by 2-3 cooks in 1-2 shifts since there would be no need for cooking while kids sleep. The key here is "modern times". Modern school cafeterias typically order pre-prepped food that just needs to be heated up and served.
Cleaning staff 1 Most schools only have 1-3 cleaning people depending on thier size. Since magic makes cleanup WAY easier than anything we muggles can manage, at only 1000 students, 1 custodian should be plenty. Other than maybe needing a wizard to maintain the enchantments, most cleaning could be done by animated mops, brooms, dusters, etc... or for a less togue-and-check solution, most fantasy settings have some manner of golem able that is able to perform simple manual tasks like cleaning.
Plumbers, handymen, janitors 0-1 Most schools employ cleaning staff that double as general maintenance men. Again, magic makes this so much easier, that a single magic powered janitor should be plenty. The only reason to have someone more or less in this role is if your school includes lots of highly specialized magic features that takes a specialist to maintain. Then you would you maybe need a separate master of restoration magic.
Gardeners and other outdoorsy personnel 0-1 In smaller schools, this is usually also the job of that 1-3 janitors. According to one of my clients who is an arborist, even very large college campuses often only employ a single full time arborist and contract out additional grounds keepers only as needed.
Security 0-3 Many schools in England do not employ specific security personnel at all. Those that do typically only have 1 guard per shift unless they are a particularly large school. Since this is a magic school run by powerful wizards, it is likely that this school does not need any specific security personal at all... after all, why hire a defense against the dark arts teacher if you don't expect him to actually defend against the dark arts.
Footmen etc. 0 Magic makes such people far less necessary. Any job of this sort should be done by golems, house elves, familiars, or some equivalent thing.
Support personnel 1-10 Most schools of this size have 1 librarian and 1 nurse. The roll of nurse and accountant are typically Administrative staff that only step into these roles as needed; so, these roles may already be accounted for. Just depending your setting, you may or may not also have 1-2 IT people (or magical equivalents), 1-2 marketing people, 1-3 school councilors (maybe more if bad things happen as often as it does at Hogwarts.), etc.
Special magic stuff 0-10 Because this is a school of magic, there may be extra jobs for procurement and maintenance of special magical stuff that is setting specific.
Total 86-183 While this number could potentially fall just shy of 200, closer to the small end of the spectrum would be considered how many are "Needed" to run the school as the question asked. There may be a number of temp workers or outside contractors as well that come and go as needed that make the total number of people employed by the school a bit bigger, but this question is just asking about actual staff.
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    $\begingroup$ Hello, the OP's question mentions "special powers than can cause chaos" and "some supernatural features that could be used to explained some eventual inconsistencies but should not alter this answer". To me, this sounds very different from "all-powerful magic that solves any and every problem and takes care of everything everyday". In particular, a cleaning crew consisting in a single person sounds pretty unreasonable. $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    May 12, 2023 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ Also, the fact that the place is remote and isolated, and everyone is living in the school, means 1 nurse is probably not enough. A non-isolated, non-boarding school already needs 1 nurse; but most people never visit the nurse; if they have a medical problem, they go to the hospital or to see their family doctor. In particular, when students are sick, they don't go to school. This is not an option there, so the school needs their own medical personnel. 1000 students of age 11-18 will result in people getting sick regularly. $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    May 12, 2023 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Stef the OP asked to use Hogwarts levels of magic. The Harry Potter world has all sorts of spells for cleaning (Scourgify), healing (Episkey), and constructs (Golemancy), and most settings with similar levels of magic have spells for all of these purposes. Not using the available magic to help run the school is just plain bad world building. If anything, I scaled the potential of magic to reduce labor way down. You could potentially nix the teaching assistants, cooks, and secretaries too, and have teachers leading several classes at once if you go a bit more liberal with the magic. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    May 12, 2023 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Stef Isolated populations don't have the same issues with sickness as urban schools. With only 1000 students and minimal outside contact, outbreaks would be exceedingly rare... or you can take the stance they are in fact not isolated because of teleportation and portals in which case your hospitals and family doctors argument will apply. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    May 12, 2023 at 14:06
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We know there are four houses, and we further know there are seven years. That's 28 distinct student groups. There is no indication from the books that House/Year groups were ever further split to manage class sizes. In fact the evidence we have is the reverse happened: classes were often filled out by combining students from separate houses, with Gryffindor taking Herbology alongside Hufflepuff, or Potions alongside Slytherin. We don't know how often this happened, but it seems as though most classes were made of students from at least two houses.

We further know that students from every year took Potions and Defense against Dark Arts, but there was only one potions master or DaDA instructor. Granting these courses were always doubled up, that means those instructors had 14 teaching periods. Further allowing for some advanced-year classes to include students from all four houses, and spread across two sets of classes each week (say, MWF vs TTh), that's still at least 5-6 class periods per day for those instructors, which is rough with a full load but doable. Importantly, this tells us combining house groups for each class was not only about spreading contact and camaraderie between houses, but also something that was needed to manage course load for faculty.

Later years also allowed students more academic freedom, with new options such as Muggle Studies (and presumably either smaller class sizes or, again, combing students from all four houses). This lets us push teaching faculty count back up a little, but I still think we can start from the basic House/Year group pairs as our teaching faculty estimate.

Based on this, and the idea you would not want unsupervised students during the class day, I'd expect around 18-20 separate class groups. Probably fewer, but I want to set an upper bound. This means at least 18-20 faculty, and maybe as many as six additional "advanced level" adjuncts who only taught a course or two and probably lived in Hogsmeade as often as not.

I further take the books at their word for the characters we meet. The only non-teaching administration/staff we ever see are Dumbledoor, Filch, Hagrid (initially), Madams Pomfrey and Hooch, and some house elves. I'm willing to accept there might be one additional human kitchen supervisor, but otherwise the indication is the head table was sufficient to seat all of the staff and faculty, and the faculty themselves, being mainly residential, took on many after-hours duties for supervision and maintenance of the facilities.

That brings us to only, at most, 32 non-elf persons, plus an uncertain number of kitchen/cleaning elves.

This is light for modern standards, to put it mildly. However, I think we must also accept the use of magic to reduce the need for labor.

From here you could use reasonable average class size estimates multiplied by 18-20 classes in session at a time to estimate an upper boundary on the size of Hogwarts' student population, which I would put somewhere between 400 and 600, probably towards the lower and of that range. You're looking for a school with closer to 1000 students, so we can adjust from here, but I don't think it makes sense to simply scale staff linearly with student population. Faculty, yes, especially as these faculty already seem overloaded, but administration should get more efficient as an organization gets larger.

Therefore, for a school of 1000 I'd suggest a count of 80 to 90, again, plus a number of house elves that is nearly impossible to guess at. Further limit the utility of magic and I expect you could reasonably increase this number if you wished.

Note that I'm excluding house elves here not because they aren't "people", but because the books provided too few clues for me to make any reasonable guess for how many there were.


As a side note, given the estimated Hogwarts population, we could further guess at an upper boundary for the population of the entire British wizard community at only around 10,000. And if one were to do so, one would probably conclude Hogwarts is not nearly large enough.

In order to handle the wizard population level we've seen indicated in the books there must be more of these schools than we've been led to believe, or, perhaps, many wizarding families go entirely without formal schooling, or both. Alternatively, one could suggest there are multiple Potions Masters and DaDA instructors, and that a group of faculty follows a group of students as they age through the system. This would allow for a larger school, with more faculty and students we never meet... if only having a single DaDA instructor wasn't such a big plot point.

It's something that bothers me every time I read through these books.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps this is why the DaDA teachers never lasted that long.... and Snape was just devoted enough to Potions that he didn't care about the workload. $\endgroup$
    – IronEagle
    May 11, 2023 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that's helpful. I am not looking for the staff number of Hogwarts as described in the books, but of another school (that shares some traits with Hogwarts) that would be realistic in how it operates (so without teachers running 18 hours of lesson per day). $\endgroup$ May 12, 2023 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ I would be wary of pulling any actual numbers from the Harry Potter books. JKR was notoriously bad with the math and if you read all 7 books very carefully, the number of students in Hogwarts is pretty inconsistent. The fact that the school is magic also accounts for a lot missing personnel. Running a non-magical building for 1000 students requires a lot more staff, including lots of janitors, a team to rescue people who get stuck in elevators three times per week, etc. In the books, Argus Filch appears to be single-handedly handling every maintenance task in the school. $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    May 12, 2023 at 10:50
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My answer is about 125 Staff.

Edit: Due to the comment from John the answer is now 750 full time staff

Reasoning: Hogwarts takes significant inspiration from the English 'Public' (Private) School system.

Quick note - Private schools (where you pay to attend) in the UK are traditionally called Public schools, because originally when they were setup, they were not Clergy or Military schools, meaning that any member of the Public (who could pay) could attend.

If we look at the likes of Eton - according to their website, they maintain a ratio of 8:1 - One teacher for every 8 students, they have ~1,000 students and so 125 is the answer.

Edit

Again, see the above - 750 full time staff.

Most Public schools have a long history of Prefects assisting the Teachers with keeping order and doing chores/maintenance etc. Which would be realistic, even in a Magical/Hogwarts setting.

That is the senior pupils help keep the junior pupils in order, with the teachers/staff being the more formal authority. There is a lot of history about the degrees at which this was effective - some senior prefects being downright sadistic and tyrannical and others being generally okay.

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    $\begingroup$ 125 teachers is very different than 125 staff. Eton has 125 teachers NOT 125 staff. Eton has 750 full time employees. $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 11, 2023 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ Eton is not logistically isolated from the rest of the world. Good point about the use/misuse of senior students to look after junior students, but ignoring the logistics side of keeping an isolated facility running makes your estimate unrealistically low (unless magical teaching/training somehow takes care of all maintenance, cleaning, security and feeding of the school). $\endgroup$ May 11, 2023 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ @john - good point, lemme correct it then. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2023 at 0:21
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I always felt like it was based on a place like an English public school. Eton has 1300-1350 pupils and 750 staff. That is a rough ratio of 1.8 pupils to staff members.

I would therefore estimate that 1000 pupils may equal about 550 staff of all types. That doesn't account for the supernatural/magical nature of the place. It might be the case that some of the jobs done by human staff would be done by 'magic'.

However it might also be the case they require even more staff because it seems like an unusually deadly place by school standards.

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