Dorking girl, 11, asks Michael Gove to do more for dyslexic pupils

CHANGE: Olivia Loder wants to make a change to state school education for youngsters with dyslexia.


AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl from Dorking who was bullied because of her dyslexia has asked the Education Secretary for better teacher training to help other youngsters – and received a reply.

Before moving to specialist school Moon Hall College in Leigh, Horsham Road resident Olivia Loder found the prospect of facing her bullies each day so stressful she would often feign illness to avoid going in. But since making the switch, she has “never been happier”.

Her mother Ann, 47, told the Advertiser: “When she used to be at state school, she would more often than not say she had stomach ache so she wouldn’t have to go to school.

“She was being bullied. She is a chatty girl and I think perhaps some people didn’t like that.

“She is not severely dyslexic but she can struggle with some things and in her new school she has come on leaps and bounds. She actually wants to go to school now.”

After settling so well at Moon Hall College, Olivia took inspiration from Nelson Mandela and decided to write to MP for Surrey Heath and Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.

“I want to try and do something,” said Olivia. “I want there to be more information available for state school teachers about dyslexia.

“I am so happy in my new school, everyone supports each other and it is really nice.

“Nelson Mandela made a change, so I thought, why can’t I?”

After composing her two-page letter following Mr Mandela’s funeral in December, she showed it to her parents who were “astounded” by what they read.

Her father Tim, 40, said: “She came home from school after Nelson Mandela’s funeral and asked who was in charge of education and when we told her she went off into the other room.

“We didn’t think anything of it, but then she came in to see us and she had written a two-page letter to Mr Gove.

“We were astounded. She had done it completely off her own back and we are extremely proud of her.”


  • Michael Gove’s reply
  • Olivia’s letter, page 1
  • Olivia’s letter, page 2

Three weeks later, she was thrilled to receive a reply from Mr Gove himself.

He wrote: “I was saddened to read about your experience being bullied. Bullying is totally unacceptable.

“I am sorry that you feel that state schools do not treat dyslexic students with respect.

“New teachers must have excellent skills and training, to help students reach their full potential.

“Your experiences show very clearly why it is so vital that dyslexic students receive the support they need.”