A housemaster is a senior teacher within a school, Historically, pupils attending a British public (fee paying) school would have been allocated a place in one of the school's boarding houses, usually for the duration of their education at the school concerned. Each house had its own name and, to an extent, rules and traditions. House spirit was fostered by inter-house competitions, for sports and other activities.
As public schools took on day pupils, who did not board, the house system continued and is a common feature of most British public schools. Commonly, a school may have around six - eight such houses.
In some boarding schools housemasters might not be teachers at all, solely working on the boarding side of the school. In such school Head of House is used for the person in-charge of the traditional house, where housemaster and dorm-mother is used for in-charge of the individual dormitories. Is taken by both teacher's in the school and is considered a separate job for the teaching post. It is also popular as work student-teachers where they can tend their studies during normal school hours and gain experience working with schoolchildren at the same time.
Housemasters and corporal punishment
The housemaster is the senior member of staff responsible for the pupils in his house, and as such typically takes primary responsibility for their discipline. A caning would traditionally have been used for more serious misdemeanours, administered in the housemaster's office, often on the bare bottom. Students would often being sent to their housemaster for punishment by other members of staff (who often would not themselves use corporal punishment).
Punishments may occasionally also have been meted out by housemasters in dormitories for more minor offences, perhaps with a less severe implement such as a slipper.
Only the most serious offences would be referred to the headmaster, the school's ultimate disciplinary authority, rather than being dealt with by the pupil's housemaster.
Housemasters typically also hold a a full teaching role within the school, often as a Head of Department. In their role within their house, they would often be assisted by a deputy (e.g. an Assistant Housemaster or House Tutor) and one or more senior pupils appointed as prefects, the most senior of whom would often be known as the head of house. In some cases, these prefects would also have held the authority to use corporal punishment.
In Boarding schools that separate the role of housemasters and teachers (even if they overlap in most cases) have taken advantages of such in time and places where school corporal punishment is illegal but domestic is not. Where during school hours both day and boarding students would receive the same punishments (detention, lines etc) boarding students will then have to also report to their housemaster after school for having earned such punishments in class, and is view as the same grounds as a parent doing the same thing for the day students.
Housmasterial punishments often appear in school spanking stories by authors such as Abel Jenkins and on school-related sites such as Lowewood Academy. Punishments by housemasters also feature in roleplaying scenes.