There is a difference between 16/17 year olds and under 16 in many areas, particularly child protection and autonomy.
With respect to looking after 15 year olds and 17 year olds legally there is no difference (as I understand it), they are both 'minors' and so the relevant safeguarding measures should take place.
My kids went from being unable to do work experience at 15 because they were too young to needing a DBS at 16 because they were suddenly a threat.
these two points seem unrelated? I'll answer the point I think you're getting at? At some age DBS' need to start to be a requirement, and it makes sense to be the age at which you can start working and being in charge of young people.
Teachers in our family will not touch a child in school in almost any circumstance due to the ramifications and all too prevalent legal issues.
This isn't a new thing. It's always been advised not to touch children unless required. It's common sense.
If you follow this logic to the bitter end then sixth formers should have DBS’s to be at school. It’s nonsense. My kids have already done multiple DBS’s without reaching 21.
Generally DBS's are only required for those likely to be in charge of young people or left 1 on 1 with young people. Obviously not the case at schools, so this argument is nonsense. The DBS system is a bit shit anyway to be honest, but it's the only system that there is. It would be good if an employer/similar could do a check at any time (with no cost) so that you can get live updates, instead you've got a system where someone can have an active DBS check that all it really means is the person hadn't been caught at the time of the check.
I would focus on colleges and universtities for long term caver supply. Half of school leavers now go.
By the time someone is at college 16/17 they've had access to plenty of other activities and caving gets left either as a side hobby, or tried once but never returned to as there are other hobbies there. Climbing and other sports are able to hook people from a young age so why shouldn't caving.
This is all my understanding of things, but I'm no legal expert, and will happily be corrected on any of these points (except for that last one).