I run a serious risk that people will think I made this one up! You certainly do have (i) a head who wants to extract from this package the maximum disempowerment of governors and (ii) my sympathy. I am sorry you were not able to insist that the working party was elected at a governors'
meeting - preferably the next! - and that it was made clear that only governors had a vote, if that proved necessary. The method suggested is not calculated to unite governors or encourage democratic choice of representatives, and if it is to be regarded as a committee of governors, with power, that is not even a legal way to form it. However, you must keep your cool. Nobody can make you halve your governing body, delegate all decisions to the head, accept committees of three governors and double that number of staff and others as associates.
The only really important changes you cannot avoid are delegating the selection of staff below deputy to the head, and accepting a lower quorum than previously for the more strategic decisions which used to require two-thirds. Everything else can only happen if more than half of your governors vote for it, so don't panic. If that number think all the new proposals are the best thing that ever happened to governors then fine, but otherwise stand your ground. Remember, too, that you decide whether associate governors have a vote, and even then they cannot use it unless outnumbered by governors at the meeting in question.
Some changes will come, and perhaps those of us who have looked askance at them will be proved wrong, but we still have choice over most of them. If you have a governing bodies' association in your local education authority, do air your worries there, and seek help from your governor support service.
A further point about all this procedural change is how much time discussing it will rob from more vital issues in schools.
Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 0171 782 32023205, or see www.tes.co.uk governorsask_ the_expert