Education reform in England is increasingly portrayed as a quest to create 'world class' schools through the transfer of features of 'high performing' school systems. The demand for evidence to support policy borrowing has been serviced by an influential intermediary network, which uses international data banks to compare education systems, and to identify and promote evidence of 'what works'. The approach to comparisons has been portrayed as a 'New Paradigm' by its advocates, and whilst the network has been extensively critiqued, this has largely focused on its deviation from the norms of academic comparative education. This article explores how the 'New Paradigm' operates, identifying its inherent features and the strategies used to overcome the methodological issues associated with policy borrowing. This is pursued through an analysis of the rationale; assumptions; underlying ideology; methodology; omissions and silences; dealing with critics; and language and presentation of four of its influential publications. Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis.