The repeal of the charter school legislation was a key election policy for the Labour party in 2017.

According to Ministry of Education figures, around 1200 students were enrolled in charter schools in 2017.

In contrast, state primary and secondary schools had almost 770,000 students.

Reaction from across unions across the sector has largely been welcoming.

Jack Boyle, president of the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA), said in a statement that this was a positive step for the New Zealand education system.

“Public schools can and do reflect the diversity in their communities and are responsive and accountable to them,” he continued.

“Many public schools are using the creativity of NCEA and the New Zealand Curriculum far better than any charters, and it is no surprise well-supported and skilled professional teachers are more likely to be innovative.

“We don’t need charter schools for innovation,” he said.

Similarly, Paul Goulter, national secretary of the New Zealand Educational Institute, which represents primary school educators, praised the move.

“It’s been long awaited in the primary sector,” he said.

“[Charter schools] don’t work.

“Nowhere in the world do they work.

“Individual schools might have a period when their students outperform allegedly system data, but if you aggregate the data across charter schools it’s definitely not the case, and those charter schools vary in their performance.

“They were brought into New Zealand on the spurious promise that they would lift system performance and that’s clearly not happened at all.

"The argument that we should keep a whole privatised education system open for the varying benefit of one or two students ... over a short period of time is spurious in our view.”

He added that there was no evidence to support the set up of charter schools in the first place.

“The very few...supporters of charter schools are saying 'where’s the research necessary to close them down?', and that’s a really interesting thing for them to say, because before they were being set up we said quite clearly, 'where’s the research to show that they will actually do what’s been promised and that the system needs them?', and the group that basically set up the charter schools in this country just completely ignored that.”

Goulter said that students from charter schools who make the move to the mainstream system will be welcomed into the state system.

“The charter schools have considerably underperformed [compared to the state] system.

“That means that ultimately the children will be in a system where they would be better off.

“If they have special requirements or special needs, that can either be dealt with as a school through the negotiations or taken in as part of a conversation with a new receiving school.”

In a statement, deputy secretary, early learning and student achievement at the Ministry for Education, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, said there were many options open to charter schools now.

“One of the options a school could consider, and we will be discussing with them, is moving into the state schooling system. 

“From a technical perspective this would involve applying to establish a new state school which could incorporate elements of their charter school’s current special character.

“In order for them to operate as a designated character school, a process would need to be worked through, which would include ending their existing contracts to operate as a charter school, and the Minister approving an application. 

"The Ministry would work with schools to ensure this is as seamless as possible.”

In the meantime, charter schools are continuing to operate as normal.

Tania Rangiheua, principal of Te Kura Māori o Waatea, said the legislation was not a surprise.

“It was totally expected, it’s not as if it came out of the blue,” she said.

The plan now is “business as usual”, she added.

“Other charter schools may have their expectations and they may not necessarily align with mine...but we’ve been preparing for this for some time, [since] last year.

“I don’t foresee any major issues for us in converting to a special character school.”

 MacGregor-Reid said discussions with charter schools to plan for their future are in the early stages.

“In the meantime, parents, students and teachers can be confident that the charter schools that are currently open will be able to remain open for the full 2018 school year, as per their contracts,” she said in a statement.