Love Island civil servant eyes Whitehall return

Former policy adviser at Department for Education says she would like to encourage more young people into politics and the civil service


By Richard Johnstone

30 Jul 2018

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Zara McDermott, the Department for Education civil servant who appeared on the hit TV show Love Island has said that she is keen to return to work in government.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Anna Foster, McDermott who is on a 12-month career break from her role as a post-16 education policy advisor at DfE, said she would “love to” return to work in government.

She told the programme: “I’ve got a career break at the moment which gives me a chance to make the most of my youth and the opportunities that have come my way, with the possibility of returning back to Westminster in the future.’

“The door is well and truly open for me to go back. I think they are keen for me to go back whenever.”

McDermott, who was part of the ITV2 show from 17 June to 27 June, added that she would likely return to the Department for Education. She first joined the civil service in Department of Energy and Climate Change on a two-year apprenticeship in September 2015, after finishing her A-levels, before joining DfE in October last year.

She wrote on her LinkedIn profile that at DECC she was leading on fraud for the Renewable Heat Initiative scheme, contributing to policy development on renewable heating technology, and dealing with parliamentary questions, briefings for minsters and correspondence.

"I was originally in [the Department of] energy and climate change and then [the Department for] business, energy and industrial strategy, then I moved to education just because I have a real passion for children and making a difference in that way,

“I have got 12 months, I think there is a possibility of reducing that if I want. The world is my oyster right now, and I’m really, really grateful to everyone who has been able to put this in place.”

She added that she was hopeful she could help encourage more young people to into politics and the civil service.

It was reported at the time of McDermott’s appearance on Love Island that she was on a career break, but had not told the DfE she would join the show.

At the time, DfE didn't comment on the specific case, but pointed out that civil servants must abide by the civil service code even when they are on a career break.

The code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants, who must adhere to the values of the civil service including integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.

“We do not comment on matters relating to individual civil servants," the department said. "Civil service rules state that all civil servants, whether currently working or on an unpaid career break, must abide by the civil service code and their terms of employment during this period.”

In April 2016, McDermott tagged herself at Downing Street in a selfie on Instagram, with the caption: “My office for the day… my job is better than yours”.

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