SECONDARY school pupils in the region could be the next to benefit from brain-boosting pills.

As exclusively revealed by The Northern Echo on Saturday the pills have already helped under-achieving junior school children in County Durham to improve learning.

Now it has been disclosed that experts are considering targeting secondary school pupils who are not reaching their potential.

Dr Madelaine Portwood, the Durham Local Education Authority (LEA) psychologist who organised the junior school trial, said: "We are currently looking at extending the trial to secondary schools. That is something that is up for discussion at the moment."

The trial, involving 123 pupils at 12 junior schools, showed that a significant number of pupils could improve their concentration, behaviour and performance in the classroom by taking a few capsules containing a blend of fish oil and evening primrose oil every day.

In nearly four out of ten cases the improvements seen by teachers and parents during the Durham trial were described as dramatic.

Most children benefited from having the daily Eye.q capsules but they did not work for everyone.

Dr Portwood is hoping that the trial will lead to changes to help under-achieving children around the world.

Many youngsters who are hyperactive or have problems concentrating are given medication such as Ritalin. This is widespread in the US and is increasingly common in the UK.

But Dr Portwood believes that brain-stimulating dietary supplements, rich in long chain fatty acids, could be more effective than medication.

Keith Mitchell, director of education for Durham LEA, speaking about the junior school trial, said: "As director of education, I want to make a difference to children in schools in County Durham. The Education Department has given its full support to the collaborative project, which could have far-reaching benefits for children and their families."

Councillor Neil Foster, a Durham LEA cabinet member, said: "The Local Education Authority is proud of its record in creating the best communities for children's learning.

"We strive to provide an education system in which children can make the best of their opportunities. I believe this research project is another massive step forward in improving the lives of all the children in our schools."