The schools were given a deadline of May 1 to apply for the change.

According to the statement, 10 of the schools applied to become designated character schools, while the final two applied to become state integrated.

“I would like to thank the charter school sponsors for their efforts in getting these applications in,” the Minister said in his statement.

“The Ministry of Education will now take some time to consult on and assess the applications and will report to me by the end of June.”

Some schools have expressed concern about the way in which the transition process has been handled.

Alwyn Poole, Academic Advisor for the Villa Education Trust which runs two charter schools, said they had been “put in a position of ‘close or be closed’.”

“Basically he was trying to force square pegs into round holes,” Poole said.

“The minister and the Prime Minister said they were open to legislative change to make the transition easier, so the three things the [charter] schools have consistently said is that they should be able to retain their ownership and governance model, because that gives us direction, they should be able to retain bulk funding, because it costs the taxpayer no more but it gives us our flexibility, and because our contracts are so different to state, that we should be able to stay outside the collective contract.

“[These] are three easy things to do, but the minister and the Ministry have shown no interest in doing that at all, so we will try and fit our model into one of the two options that are there, and then I guess it’s up to the minister to say yes or no.”

Raewyn Tipene, chief executive officer of He Puna Marama Trust, which runs Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, agreed that the transition process had not been handled well.

“Until last week, I wasn’t aware there was a transition process in place,” she said.

She criticised the Government for not doing the right thing by her students.

“The state system has consistently failed Māori students as a group for decades ... whereas we have consistently achieved outstanding results in [our] four-and-a-half years of operation. 

“What we need is an environment where Māori students can be Māori, education can innovate and be more flexible, to meet the needs of (Māori) students in the 21st century. 

“If we could, we would innovate even further,” she added.

However, Tania Rangiheuea, Tumuaki at Te Kura Māori o Waatea, was more confident of her school’s ability to protect the interests of its students as the transition went ahead.

“Transitioning into mainstream has meant a lot of work for us and the Ministry, however we are confident of our ability to meet the tight deadlines at the same time as protecting the interests of our students, whānau and community,” she told EducationHQ.

David Seymour, whose ACT Party introduced charter schools to the country, said there was still time for the Education Minister to change his mind and reverse his decision.

“The Government’s Bill to scrap the charter school model hasn’t yet passed into law,” he said.

“There is still time for the Education Minister to consider the evidence and allow these schools to continue serving children who have been underserved by the state system.”

Like Poole and Tipene, Seymour said the Government was not looking out for the best interests of the school communities its decisions were impacting.

“The Government should have properly consulted with the schools and taken account of the evidence showing the schools were working for students," he said.

“Instead, they have bullied the schools into the state system and have simply ignored the evidence.”

Seymour added that he would continue to support the schools.

“ACT [does not] believe that one size fits all in education.”

E Tipu e Rea, a not-for-profit that provides support to charter schools, slammed the government’s decision.

“The unilateral decision to ungraciously dump charter schools after only four years of operation is to deny that they have succeeded in lifting the educational achievement levels of students that have historically ‘fallen through the gaps’ of the state system,” chief executive Graeme Osborne said in a statement.

Hipkins has said he expects to be able to make a decision on each school’s application by the end of July.