Bernina sponsors many prizes throughout the festival, which sees secondary school students from around the country putting their directing, acting and design talents to the test. The Bernina Costume Design Competition gives students a chance to put their skills onto the national stage by designing a costume for any character from a Shakespearean play. (They do not need to make the costume). Designs may be contemporary or period in style and can count towards their NCEA assessment. Development process, a clear description of construction, fabrics and budget are key elements.

The Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) promotes and facilitates the performance, appreciation and study of the works of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Since 1992 the Centre has held the Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Schools, involving over 55,000 students nationwide. Each year some 5200 students from over half the secondary schools in the country take part in one of 21 Regional Festivals. Around 520 students are then chosen to participate in the National Festival in Wellington over Queen's Birthday weekend in June.