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The principal of Henderson Intermediate, Wendy Esera, has been in education for 44 years and says student poverty is the worst she's seen.
Parents can't afford uniforms, transport to school or food for lunches.
For some families, it's easier for the kids to stay home.
With some families at breaking point, KidsCan has launched an urgent appeal.
KidsCan CEO Julie Chapman joined Kerre Woodham.