Professor Dumbledore voted UK’s favourite fictional teacher

Wednesday 05 October 2016


Professor Dumbledore is the UK’s favourite teacher from the world of popular culture, new British Council research has revealed.

Commissioned for World Teachers’ Day – which recognises the work of teachers around the world on 5 October every year - the UK-wide poll sees the revered headmaster from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series being crowned the nation’s best loved fictional teacher. 

Described as ‘the epitome of goodness’, by Rowling herself  – who in fact spent a short period of time teaching English abroad on the British Council’s Language Assistant scheme - Professor Dumbledore’s qualities seemed to resonate across the board. Almost one in five of those surveyed chose the character as their top fictitious educator – nearly double the percentage of those who selected runner-up Mr Chips (Goodbye Mr Chips).

 The Professor’s educational merits have also been endorsed by the teaching profession – polling previously conducted by the Times Educational Supplement in 2014, and on which this new poll has been based, recognised Dumbledore as being teachers’ own favourite fictional teacher1.

The UK’s apparent fascination with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry doesn’t end there - Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall, also from the Harry Potter series, feature in the new top ten at numbers three and six respectively. The nation’s other most well-loved fictional educators range from Mr Chips (Goodbye Mr Chips) at number two, Miss Honey (Matilda) at number five and Jean Brodie (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) at number seven to the less conventional Mr Gilbert (The Inbetweeners) at number four, Charles Xavier (X Men series) at number eight and Walter White (Breaking Bad) at number nine. The final entry into the top ten is Merlin (Sword in the Stone).

Mark Herbert, Head of Schools Programmes at the British Council, said: “Hogwarts School clearly tops the fictional league tables to get three places in the top ten. JK Rowling’s characters have reached out of the Potter pages to inspire a nation of pupils and teachers.

“And while it is the worldly and wise Professor Dumbledore who takes the overall crown, each character on the list indicates that we are most influenced by those who look at things differently – and who encourage those around them to do the same.

“Inspirational teachers change lives and develop minds by opening their pupils’ eyes up to the world. It matters more than ever that our young people have the knowledge, skills and outlook they’ll need in the increasingly international world of work – and great teachers are an essential part of that.  However I’m sure that plenty of teachers sometimes wish they had Dumbledore’s magical powers.”

The research, carried out by Populus among more than 1,000 UK adults, was commissioned by the British Council for World Teachers’ Day 2016 – and its connected #WorldOfThanks social media drive to recognise the work of educators across the globe. As part of the organisation’s work to build relationships for the UK around the world through language, culture and education, the British Council employs more than 2,000 teachers globally and also offers lots of opportunities for UK schools to make international connections.

Notes to Editor

For more information, contact Kristen McNicoll in the British Council Press Office on 0207 389 4967 / 07765 898 738 or

1. TES poll:

Populus interviewed a random sample of 1,081 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 28 - 29 September 2016. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Please note that some of the figures used exclude those who selected ‘not applicable’.  Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

The top 20 list is as follows:

1.     Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter series)

2.     Mr Chips (Goodbye Mr Chips)

3.     Severus Snape (Harry Potter series)

4.     Mr Gilbert (The Inbetweeners)

5.     Miss Honey (Matilda)

6.     Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter series)

7.     Jean Brodie (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)

8.     Charles Xavier (X Men series)

9.     Walter White (Breaking Bad)

10.  Merlin (The Sword in the Stone)

11.  Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)

12.  John Kimble (Kindergarten Cop)

13.  Mrs Krabappel (The Simpsons)

14.  Mrs McClusky (Grange Hill)

15.  Mr Keating (Dead Poets Society)

16.  Alfie Wickers (Bad Education)

17.  Susan Kennedy (Neighbours)

18.  Miss Trunchbull (Matilda)

19.  Mr Bronson (Grange Hill)

20.  Pete Brockman (Outnumbered)


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.