From 2000, schools will be advised to teach primary children about Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone and John Logie Baird, who pioneered television while secondary pupils should learn about Michael Faraday and Marie Curie.
Meanwhile, children will no longer have to take part in competitive games after the age of 14, under the planned curriculum. Instead they can choose other activities as part of compulsory PE lessons, such as swimming, dance or athletics.
Department for Education and Employment officials say the change is aimed at encouraging more teenagers to take up physical activities they can continue after school. A spokesman said: "The problem is getting this age group to do any sport at all. If by the age of 14 they don't like team games they are never going to. There is little point in forcing them when they could spend the time doing an activity they enjoy.
"What is important is giving them an interest in activities that will keep them healthy, and that they have a chance of continuing after they leave school."
Heads welcomed the move saying it would not further undermine team sports.
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Head Association, said it was important to give children an appropriate sense of competition by the age of 14. He said: "The issue at age 14 is then getting young people interested in something they can carry through into the rest of their lives, after they leave school."
All non-core programmes of study are to have slimmer, less prescriptive programmes of study. In primary schools this is intended to allow more time for literacy and numeracy while at key stage 3 the proposals state there should be more chance for teachers to explore aspects of individual subjects in greater depth.
Art has been rewritten as art and design to emphasise its breadth and commercial importance. The Government will consult on the title to ensure it does not become confused with design and technology.
Information technology is also to be renamed, becoming information and communication technology in the new curriculum to avoid the confusion of several acronyms. No reductions in ICT are proposed but there is to be increased emphasis on information sources and communication. Jargon has also been removed from the programme of study to make it easier to understand.