The Coalition's pre-election pledge that ''every single school in Australia will receive, dollar for dollar, the same federal funding over the next four years whether there is a Liberal or Labor government'' seemed unequivocal.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday there was confusion in the community about the shape of his Gonski-related promise.

He stuck firm to the government's position that schools as a whole would get the ''same quantum of funding'' under the Coalition but would not reaffirm the pre-election promise that every individual school would be no worse off under his government.

Appearing on Channel Ten's The Bolt Report, Mr Abbott was played a clip in which Education Minister Christopher Pyne said: ''You can vote Liberal or Labor and you will get exactly the same amount of funding for your school.'' Mr Abbott replied: ''I think Christopher said 'schools would get the same amount of money'. And schools, plural, will get the same amount of money. The quantum will be the same.''

Pressed on the apparent clear-cut promise to individual schools, Mr Abbott suggested that there was confusion.

''We are going to keep the promise that we made - not the promise that some people thought that we made, or the promise that some people might have liked us to make,'' Mr Abbott said. ''We are going to keep the promise that we actually made.''

The promise, according to Mr Pyne's official website on Sunday, was that ''every single school'' would get what they would have under Labor's model.

Mr Pyne invited a widespread backlash, including from state education ministers, when he announced a new funding formula would be introduced in 2015, with the same ''funding envelope'' but no detail on whether there would be winners and losers.

After a meeting with Mr Pyne and other state ministers on Friday, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said there would be losers and they would be public schools.

''The government made a commitment that there would be no broken promises under the government that they lead and, unfortunately, that has not come to pass,'' he said.

Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis savaged Mr Abbott's ''clever words''.

''A promise is a promise,'' she said. ''They were very specific in their words before the election … a promise they have now walked away from.''

The Australian Education Union said it was an ''insult to parents'' that Mr Abbott was muddying the waters on such an unequivocal pre-election position.

''If there is one thing there should be no surprises about, it's funding,'' said the union's federal deputy president, Correna Haythorpe.