Fear is powerful and pervasive in English schools and central to many education discourses. However, it has received very little focussed attention in the education literature, despite the increasing interest afforded to it in other disciplines. Understanding how fear works is extremely important as fear and wellbeing are inextricably linked. However, currently we are a long way from knowing how fear operates in education. In this paper I argue that it would be beneficial for educational researchers to focus more attention on the diverse and often contradictory ways that fears operate in education, and on how they are constructed and sustained. I illustrate the value of focussing on fear by considering two aspects of secondary education – academic and social “success” and “failure” – and exploring the ways that fears operate in these spheres.