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The school originally opened on 12 July 1912 in buildings on North Hill, Colchester. During the 1930s the school became known as the North East Essex Technical College and School of Art; in 1959 the college was renamed the Gilberd County Technical School after Dr William Gilberd (also known as William Gilbert), the "father of electricity and magnetism" and medical advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. (The School of Art became the Colchester Institute.)
The school was one of three Grammar Schools in Colchester: the Royal Grammar School (boys), Colchester County High School (girls) and the Gilberd School (co-educational). Educational reorganisation made all schools co-educational while also turning the Gilberd School into a Comprehensive. The site is now used as Colchester Sixth Form College, and the school is based in Brinkley Lane in the Highwoods area of the town.
The school converted to academy status on 1 March 2012.
Overtime, the Gilberd School has been developing its facilities as more people are living in Highwoods. There are plans to build a new subject block and sports hall onto the school for completion summer 2015.
Highwoods Sports Centre makes use of the school's sports facilities in the evening and at weekends.
Notable former pupils
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