Young people with tenuous relationships to schooling and education are an enduring problem for addressing social inclusion. To understand how educational failure is produced, we develop an appreciation of the influence of embodied imagination: the affective, and gesture towards embodied imagination as a form of intensive time that arrests possibilities of some kinds of future imaginings. We contend that young people who ‘fail’ in educational terms do so for practical reasons: reasons that relate to relationships between class, gender, ‘race’, geography and experience. There are dimensions of this experience of ‘failure’ and cultural disengagement that can be read as youth resistance to governmental imperatives, modes of resistance that are conscious and unconscious expressions of some young people’s experiences of alienation. This chapter introduces Spinoza’s work on embodied imagination and gestures towards Deleuze’s work on intensive time, outlining how these ideas can be put to work to provide new insights for understanding just how critical feelings are to the production and disavowal of educational futures. The exclusion of students’ feelings from existing studies of widening participation is a way of further excluding and silencing students whose voices and experiences should be at the centre of this debate. In order to rectify this issue, we develop a framework that positions young people’s bodies, experiences, voices and emotions firmly at the centre of our theoretical work.