Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed for school attendances to increase, despite some states maintaining strict advice about keeping children at home.
Schools are open for children of essential workers and vulnerable students, while others have moved to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But Mr Morrison is worried outcomes could be at risk if too many students are forced into distance learning.
“I’m very concerned about the quality of education that’s going to be delivered to our kids this year,” he told 6PR radio on Wednesday.
Mr Morrison said he couldn’t see parents being compelled to send their children back to school.
He said schools were unlikely to return to full attendance, but he favoured a more functional number of students to allow for normal lessons to return.
The prime minister pulled his two daughters out of school in the final week of term one.
“They were sitting in a room looking at a screen. That’s not teaching, that’s child-minding. And schools aren’t for child-minding,” he said.
Labor’s education spokesperson Tanya Plibersek accused the prime minister of contradicting state and territory leaders.
“Parents just want clear information about what the right thing is to do,” she said.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is unsure whether his children will attend school in Victoria when private schools resume from holidays on Thursday.
“My children at this stage, their school doesn’t start till tomorrow,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“I’ll be continuing to have discussions with them about that. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
The Victorian MP denied the indecision over whether to send his children to school highlighted parents’ confusion.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was emphatic about the arrangements throughout the state.
“If you can have your kids educated at home, that’s exactly what you must do,” he said.
But Mr Tehan told Sky News if his children said they wanted to attend school he would contact the principal to see if it was appropriate.
“I think it’s safe for children to be at school,” he said.
“But obviously, in Victoria, they’re saying if you can learn at home that’s their preference. I’ll have a discussion and see if they want to go to school.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is keen to see an increase in face-to-face teaching during the term.
“I’ll make sure there’s plenty of time to update parents and students, but our desire is to see a change in term two,” she told reporters.
“We want to see students have access to face-to-face teaching.”
Queensland will review its advice on schools by May 15 in an effort to provide clarity for parents halfway through the term.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said schools were open for children of essential workers and vulnerable students.
Health authorities have consistently said schools are safe for children, but teachers’ unions are concerned staff may be at risk.