WREXHAM children who receive free school meals are achieving poorer grades than their better off classmates.

That is the finding of Save the Children charity which is calling for the Welsh Assembly Government to close the gap between the well off and poor children in Wales.

The 3,253 Wrexham pupils who get free lunches are less likely to achieve five A*- C grades than their better off  peers, a study found.

The charity has launched a Better Odds at School campaign to ensure that additional resources are allocated to Wrexham local authorities and all children have the same life chances.

Andrew Chalinder, Head of Save the Children in Wales, said: “It’s simply wrong that at every stage of schooling, north Wales’ poorest children could be making less progress than their better-off classmates.

“Having such an attainment gap in Wales is totally unacceptable in 2010. To break this cycle of underachievement, children from the poorest homes must be given high-quality additional support to ensure they can achieve their potential.

“To provide this, schools in areas of deprivation need substantially more money.

“By doing this, we’ll benefit all children in the long run – helping raise standards, improving results and generally improving children’s experiences of education.”

Mr Chalinder added: “Poverty severely damages the prospects of many children. It’s not fair that many do worse and have less confidence in their own ability to achieve their dreams.

“Across Wales funding should be targeted for those that need it most to minimise the gap.”

The charity have launched a petition to be sent to Downing Street. See www.savethechildren.org.uk/betterodds.