Nicky Morgan is looking at bringing in an expert from overseas to be the next chief inspector of English schools.
The education secretary is understood to be considering candidates from the US, Canada and northern Europe to replace Michael Wilshaw when he stands down from Ofsted in December.
One of the favourites is said to be Dave Levin, co-founder of the KIPP group, which set up a network of more than 180 high-performing schools in the US.
Mrs Morgan believes the new chief inspector needs a track record of pushing through education reforms against resistance from unions, whether experience was garnered in this country or abroad, according to the Sunday Times.
The plan has echoes of the controversy in 2011 when attempts were made to recruit former New York police chief Bill Bratton - known as "supercop" - to run Scotland Yard.
That idea was eventually dropped by Home Secretary Theresa May on the grounds a Briton was needed in a sensitive national security post.
However, Downing Street reportedly supports the international search for a leader of Ofsted.