WELLINGTON, March 26 - Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the application from Vanguard School is "a good first step" and he's welcoming it.

There are 11 charter schools operating and the government isn't going to allow them to continue the way they are now.

Changing to schools of designated character is a way out of that.

The category already exists, and Kura Kaupapa Maori are registered under it.

If Vanguard changes its status it will have to hire registered teachers and meet some of the other rules around state schools.

Hipkins said Vanguard's students wouldn't notice much difference if it changed its status.

"I envisage we will soon be considering other applications as well," he said.